The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday, defended the N18bn contained in the proposed supplementary budget for the commission when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.
The INEC chairman was among the guests who appeared before the committee. He explained that the N18bn in the supplementary budget is not entirely for the conduct of the Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo governorship elections, but majorly personnel cost.
According to the INEC chair, chairman, N1.6bn would be used to conduct 11 by-elections in constituencies and senatorial districts across the country.
Yakubu said, “The N18bn in the supplementary appropriation is not all for the conduct of elections. Actually, the substantial part of it is about personnel cost.
“You will recall that in April this year, there was a 40 per cent increase in peculiar allowance to public servants. It was not provided for in our 2023 budget because the budget was passed in December last year so it couldn’t have made provision.
“At the same time there is another circular from the government dated February, where the Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and other consequential allowances were increased by government. There was no provision in our statutory budget.
“We have one of the largest workforces in the country, over 15,600 staff and it is not easy to find the money to pay in the absence of supplementary appropriation. So, we made a case to the government and we have been included in this supplementary appropriation.
“For the component dealing with 40 per cent peculiar allowance, for the 16,614 staff of INEC, will require N10.6 billion and we have made provision for that.
“Since the budget was passed in 2023, a lot of the parameters have changed. For instance, the cost implication of PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) has changed from 197 per liter to over 600 now. So we need augmentation. Part of the N18 billion is going to augment the elections in the three states.
“There’s no budgetary provisions for the conduct of this unforeseen and unbudgeted by-elections. Not many people in Nigeria will believe that within four months after the inauguration of the national and state assemblies, 11 vacancies have occurred, 11 by-elections in four months. Unfortunately, the majority are coming from the House of Representatives. There are five vacancies in the House of Representatives.
“The bill has been specifically structured to improve the country’s security, food security, and critical road infrastructure sectors and to bridge the housing deficit in the country, including slum upgrades and urban renewal.
“It also support the provisional wage to workers and cash transfers to vulnerable Nigerians. It will also cater to the upcoming off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, who was also a guest at the green chamber, said N18.6trn is required to address the road sector in the next four years.