The Chairman, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission will introduce electronic voting in 2021 Anambra State governorship election.
Yakubu made this known in an interview with journalists on the sideline of the 2021 budget defence at the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters on Wednesday in Abuja.
“It is difficult to give you an idea of cost or when the process would be concluded, but we are determined that we are going to deploy electronic voting machines, electronic balloting machines very soon in our elections.
“Possibly beginning with the Anambra governorship election next year,” he said.
Earlier, Yakubu had told the members of the committee that the budget of the commission had continued to decline over the years.
He recalled that in 2019, the envelop for INEC was N45.5 billion while for 2020, the envelop was N40 billion.
The chairman said that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget further dropped to N36 billion.
“As a result, the commission decided to look inward, we have the INEC fund established under Section 3 of the INEC Act where we have some savings from previous budgets because we are not expected to remit unspent funds.
“We are on the first line charge and because of the peculiarities of our work, it is in the realisation of this that the parliament in amending the Electoral Act introduced the INEC fund for a number of reasons.
“One, that we cannot be truly independent if we are not financially independent, secondly, there are so many commitments that arise in the middle of a financial year and we cannot meet these obligations except some source of funding.
“So many by-elections had risen unforeseen, and the constitution has prescribed time limits for conducting such elections.
“For example, if constituents decide to call back a member, this is not what you can project at the beginning of a fiscal year, so we have the fund, established since 2010 and we have been growing it since then,” he said.
He said that the commission decided to take N5.2 billion from the fund to supplement the budget.
In terms of the 2020 budget performance, Yakubu said that the N36 billion that was reviewed in September, the commission received N28.3 billion on monthly installment basis.
According to him, from the N36 billion, we still expect a little over N7 billion, if you add this to the N5.2 billion, that will take it to N12.6 billion.
For personnel cost, he said N22billion was appropriated and that releases at the end of September was N16 billion, saying that INEC still expects N6.10 billion on personnel emoluments.
For overhead cost, Yakubu said that N2.2 billion was earmarked, N1.8 billion was so far released and the outstanding is N931 million.
“For electoral expenditures, the budgetary provision was N15.8 billion, release is N9.7 billion and we have a balance of N5.3 billion.
“Capital expenditures, N1.03 billion was appropriated, the releases is N816 million and what is outstanding for the year N520 million.
“In terms of performance, of the N36 billion appropriated, we have so far received N28.3 billion and what is outstanding is N12billion.
“For 2021, the total envelop is N40 billion, the personal cost is N23.2 billion, overhead cost is N2.4 billion and the capital expenditure is N300 million,” he said.
The House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters said it would do anything within the law to help boost the operations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Its chairman, Rep. Aishatu Dukku who made the pledge said the door of the committee was open to support the commission.
“The door of the committee is always open to INEC on any issue that will aid the commission meet all necessary operational commitments.
“We are partners in progress whose goal is to strengthen our electoral process and aid INEC in discharging its functions,” she said.
Dukku congratulated the INEC chairman on his reappointment as the chairman of the commission by President Muhammadu Buhari.
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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