Tension in INEC over trapped N300bn budget request for 2019 elections

  • Less than 289 days to general elections

There is indication that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be encountering difficulties in organizing the 2019 general elections because of delay in financial disbursement. The delay in approving the N300 billion budget sent to President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2018 for the 2019 general elections threatens the 2019 polls.

Though, there is no evidence that the financial constraint has any link to the conflicts between the President and the National Assembly over the ratification of the amendment of the Electoral Act which altered the elections timetable initially proposed by the INEC, but the non-resolution of the conflicts could have multiplier effects on the set back in financial disbursement to the commission. This is exacerbated by the early declaration by the INEC aligning with the president in the conflicts over the Electoral Act amendment.

The INEC timetable prescribes that the primary elections of political parties to nominate candidates for presidential, governorship, federal and state legislature elections holds between August 18 and October 7.

Thus, the commission has less than 120 days to supervise party primaries and    less than 289 days to the general elections; yet, the N300 billion budget request has not received positive response. Accordingly, there is tension in the commission that the financial constraints could affect the time schedule for the general election except there is urgent intervention from the President and the National Assembly.

The elections timetable indicates that the presidential election is scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019 while others follow thereafter.

It was gathered that INEC submitted N300 billion budget proposal for the 2019 elections to the Presidency in January for onward transmission to the National Assembly for legislation. Ti was also noted that the fund is to be drawn from a special vote outside the commission’s 2018 budget, which is trapped by the delay to pass the budget by the National Assembly.