Prof Yakubu Defends 2024 INEC Budget, Makes Case Ror Additional Appropriation

By Editor-in-Chief: Mrs. Mary Nkem, Editor: Mrs. Adenike Tadese

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has defended the Commission’s 2024 budget before the Senate Committee on INEC. He made a case for additional funding to enable the Commission to fulfill its statutory0 obligations.

Professor Yakubu who led a team of National Commissioners, Directors, and Technical Aides to defend the Commission’s 2024 Budget before Senator Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli-led Committee on Wednesday 13th December, 2023 at the National Assembly Complex noted that the N40 billion allocated to the Commission by the Executive in the 2024 Budget proposal was grossly inadequate for INEC.

He recalled that the sum of N50 billion was appropriated for INEC in the 2023 appropriation as its statutory budget and an additional N18 billion was approved for the Commission in the Supplementary Budget, bringing it to a total sum of N68 billion budgeted for INEC in 2023.

The INEC Chairman expressed surprise at the fall in the sum allocated to the Commission in the 2024 budget proposal. He, however, made a case for the sum of N89 billion to enable the Commission to meet its statutory obligations.

According to him “We need N89 billion rather than N40 billion, we have given a detailed breakdown of how we intend to spend the N89 billion. Personnel cost rises from N26.5 billion in 2023 to N44.5 billion in 2024, overhead cost N7.9 billion, electoral expenditure N9.7 billion and a capital expenditure N909 Million

Explaining the performance of the 2023 budget, Prof. Yakubu said “INEC is an Agency of the government with over 15 thousand staff, and we are spread all over the country. The initial N50 billion was for the Headquarters in Abuja, the 36 states and the FCT as well as 774 Local Government Offices for personnel cost, overhead, electoral and capital expenditure and because we are on the first line charge, once the budget is appropriated by the National Assembly and approved by the Executives the Ministry of Finance breaks the budget into 12 and every month we get 1/12 of the budget. So out of the N50 billion, 1/12 comes to N4.1 billion; that is what we get every month”.

“As of 21st of November, we received the monthly remittances for 11 months and that comes to N45.8 billion so we still have N4.1 billion outstanding.

“In terms of releases, we have received 91.6 percent of the N50 billion for 2023. The budget is broken down into 4 main components into which the budget is structured. Personnel Cost N26.5 billion, Overhead Cost of N4.6 billion, Electoral Expenditure of N17.9 billion and Capital expenditure is N909 million,” he added.

…Why is the Commission proposing N89 billion?

On the Commission’s proposal for an improved allocation of N89 billion in 2024, The INEC Chairman explained that “The N40 billion given to us under the envelope budget is grossly inadequate to meet our expenditure requirement for 2024. You may recall that the Federal Government introduced the 40 percent peculiar allowance in March 2023 and all Agencies that are on the Consolidated Public Salary Structure were required to pay the consolidated salaries.

 “The circular came after the budget was appropriated in December 2022. So, no provision was made in the budget at all. To pay the peculiar allowance to over 15 thousand staff of the Commission we needed N10.6 billion that was not provided for.

“At the same time Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) was revised by a minimum of 100 percent across the board. Again, we could not implement it. Then after the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy, the N35 Thousand wage award by the Federal Government for 6 months from September 2023 to February 2024 was announced and there was no provision in our budget for the implementation of these categories of allowances.” 

“So, we made a case to the Executive, and they made a provision for N18 billion for INEC under the Supplementary budget to enable us meet these obligations.

“Practically speaking, the budget for the Commission for 2023 is N68 billion; the N50 billion plus the N18 billion under the supplementary budget. But I must also say that we are waiting for cash backing for the N18 billion under the supplementary budget. We hope that very soon we will get the cash backing,”

Speaking further, the INEC Chairman said, “We are surprised that the 2024 budget dropped from N68 billion to N40 billion because that was what was appropriated to the Commission in 2021, so the amount is simply insufficient to even meet personnel costs because of the new policy on additional allowances for officials.”

According to him “The N40 billion can only cover personnel costs and social contributions. Our personnel cost in 2023 was N21.8 billion but because of the 40 percent peculiar allowance, the new DTA, the 35 percent wage award, and others, our wage bill now is N36.5 billion. If you take it out of the N40 billion, there is virtually nothing left in the budget for Capital, Electoral, and Overhead Expenditures. “

The Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu emphasized the need for N89 billion as the proposal that will make the Commission comfortable for the conduct of elections and electoral activities in 2024. This budget covers all INEC offices nationwide and all INEC activities.” he added.

Earlier in his remark, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Matters, Senator Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, noted that it was a busy period for the members of the National Assembly as well as the Executives, as all hands were on deck to maintain the January to December budget calendar.

He said, “As a committee, we need to ensure a systematic and strategic disbursement of funds in real-time to the Commission towards the attainment of quick implementation and early preparation for electoral activities for Nigerians to feel the impact of our efforts in reforming the electoral system, which we believe will lead to successful, free and credible elections across the country.”

Senator Alli assured Nigerians that the Committee will not relent in its efforts to pay oversight visits to the Commission's Headquarters and conduct an on-the-spot assessment of projects and programmes as soon as the budget is passed to ensure that the government and the people are given value for the monies expended.

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