The Independent National Electoral Commission has said the N18 billion in the 2023 Supplementary Budget is not solely for the conduct of the three off-cycle elections.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made this known on Wednesday during an appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to defend the commission’s budget.
The electoral body will on November 11 conduct off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states and bye-elections in some states of the Federation.
According to Yakubu, the expenditure for the three off-cycle elections and bye-elections has been captured in the supplementary budget.
The INEC chairman added that part of the N18 billion in the budget is for payment of staff salaries and allowances.
He said: “You will recall that in April this year, there was a 40 percent increase in peculiar allowance of civil servants.
“It was not provided in our 2023 budget because the budget was passed in December last year.
“At the same time, there is another circular from the government dated February, where the Duty Tour Allowance and other consequential allowances were increased by the government. There is no provision in our statutory budget.
“We have over 15,000 staff, and it is not easy to find the money to pay without a supplementary budget. So, we made a case to the government, and we have been included.
“For the 16,614 staff of INEC, it is N10.6 billion, and we have made provision for that.”
Speaking further, Yakubu said the electoral commission was not able to conduct some bye-elections because there was no budgetary provision for it.
Yakubu said there are 11 vacancies, seven in the national assembly and four state assemblies, that INEC has to conduct by-elections to fill, and there is no money to conduct the elections.
The INEC chairman said he hopes that there will be no by-election again so that the commission can focus on the ones budgeted for.
He said: “Many honourable members have asked us: ‘In the House of Representatives, vacancies have been declared. Why has INEC not conducted by-elections?’ There are no budgetary provisions for the conduct of these 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. Eleven bye-elections in four months. Unfortunately, the majority coming from the House of Representatives.
“There are five vacancies in the House of Representatives. Two were caused by death, and three were caused by the resignation of honourable members.
“We have vacancies in four state constituencies across the country, and we have vacancies in two senatorial districts.
“And each time we conduct three senatorial bye-elections, it’s like conducting a governorship election because each state in Nigeria has only three senatorial districts.”