Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said that the 2019 General Elections budget would be ready in seven days.
Mahmood disclosed this in his in an address of welcome at a Two-Day 2019 Election Project Plan (EPP) Implementation for the senior management staff of the commission in Lagos.
“It is exactly a year today to the 2019 General Elections scheduled for Feb. 16, 2019,the commission has developed a strategic plan and programme of actions (2017-2021), in full consultation with stakeholders.
“In order to implement the plan, the commission then developed detailed activities and assigned specific responsibilities and time lines for the 2019 general elections under the Election Project Plan (EPP).
“There is no time to waste; the 2019 General Elections are already around the corner. These are the last activities before the conduct of the general elections.’’
He said “we have finalised and validated the election project plan, thereafter, finalise work on the election’s budget for 2019, this will be ready next week.
“Part of the successful implementation of the election plan is funding and the commission is not unaware that Nigerians are anxious to know the cost of the 2019 General Elections.
“The commission believes in optimal utilisation of resources which is dependent on proper planning.
“With the validation of EPP workshop, having concluded and validated the strategic plan and plan of actions, work on 2019 elections budget will be concluded next week
“Immediately after the validation, the budget will be presented to the appropriate authority for consideration and funding,’’ the chairman said.
He said that the commission would continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) were given necessary support to implement EPP.
Mahmood urged RECs to mobilise all members of staff of the commission to enable them prepare to play their respective roles to ensure the hitch-free general elections.
According to him, activities ranging from the assessment of the current election infrastructure, acquisition and deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive materials would take place as specified.
Mahmood stated that the objectives of the 197 activities of EPP include: “harmonising the activities and needs of all departments and directorates of the commission into an implementable plan for the 2019 elections.
Others he said include “Organising the 2019 general elections in line with the highest global professional standards to deliver cost effective but high quality general elections in 2019.
“Ensure that all stakeholders are carried along and create a level playing field for all candidates and political parties in administering the 2019 general elections
“Also to ensure accountability and responsibility of all INEC staff in the conduct of 2019 general elections”.
Mahmood said that each of the 197 activities of EPP responded to specific actions and tasks to be carried out within a specified time line.
He called for diligent and meticulous monitoring, close supervision and sustained of the EPP for understanding and adherence to time line.
On the concern in certain quarters about the possible prevalence of ineligible registrants on voter register, Mahmood said the commission was equally concerned and worried.
The INEC boss also said that the recent reports of violation by underage person, following the Kano Local Government Election were deeply disturbing.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that the matter will be fully investigated and we will share the findings of the investigation with the public.
“I wish to assure Nigerians that voter register, nationwide, will be purged of any possible ineligible registrants,” he said.
According to him, the investigation becomes necessary because the credibility of an election is drawn from the credibility of voter register.
He noted that eligibility for registrations include citizenship, residence and mandatory attainment of age of 18 years.
Mathmood said between July and December, 2017, 3, 978,682 were registered afresh nationwide.
He also disclosed that 135, 127 unclaimed Permanent Voter Cards were collected and 166,073 requests made for transfer of PVCs while the commission received 334,086 requests for replacement of PVCs.
In terms of distribution by state, the INEC boss said that Rivers recorded the highest number of voters, followed by Delta and Lagos while Kwara, Gombe and Ondo recorded the lowest.
On the ongoing voter registration, Mahmood assured that only legally eligible citizens would be screen and registered, saying INEC has 1446 registration centres nationwide.
He said that the commission had deployed additionally Direct Data Capturing machines, staff and resources nationwide to address the challenges people faced in exercise.
Presenting the 2019 EPP report, Prof. Bolade Eyinla said that the reports harmonised the activities and needs of all departments, units and directorate of INEC into implementing the plan for the general elections.
Eyinla is the Technical Adviser to INEC Chairman.
He further said his committee was inaugurated in May 2017 and was informed by success of the EPP in 2015, which centralised planning for the election.
“It is important that all hands are on deck to deliver more credible elections in 2019.
“The plan is to ensure that the 2019 elections will be conducted in line with the highest global standard and to deliver cost efficient but high quality elections.
Eyinla said that all state offices, led by RECs, designed and established their Election Monitoring Support Centres, structured to monitor and support the implementations of EPP.
Mr Shalva Kipshidze, Country Director, IFES said the EPP was developed by INEC with the support of IFES to enhance electoral integrity and good governance.
National Electoral Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Administrative Secretaries, directors, Heads of Departments among other senior staff of the commission attended the workshop.
The workshop was facilitated by INEC’s international partners (the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN), European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems