The controversy surrounding the passage of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 general elections may soon be over, it was learnt.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led INEC management Wednesday met with the leadership of the National Assembly, where the budget issue was discussed.
Besides, the commission has no other source of funding for the 2019 election, which makes it imperative for the quick passage of the budget.
Confirming the meeting to our correspondent Wednesday vie email, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi stated that the meeting between the management of INEC and the leadership of the NASS was fruitful.
He also hinted of the possibility of a quick resolution of the issue.
He stated, “Only today, the INEC Chairman led a team to brief the leadership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the election budget. It was a productive meeting. INEC has enjoyed a very cordial relationship with the National Assembly and we are hopeful that the budget issues will be resolved soon.
“INEC does not have any other source of funding than the federal budget. The Commission is confident that the budget issues will soon be resolved.”
Oyekanmi also confirm the possibility of knew political parties springing up before the 2019 general election.
There are 68 registered political parties in the country as of today, this he however said may go up to between 80-85.
Oyekanmi who was responding to a question on the possibility of emergence of new political parties ahead of next year’s poll said, “Yes. There are 68 registered political parties at the moment and we have over 130 applications from associations seeking registration as political parties. Our projection is that we might end up with between 80 and 85 political parties before the 2019 general elections.”
Prof. Yakubu had in a recent briefing hinted that the commission was processing 136 request from associations seeking registration as political parties.
He said out of this figure, 74 have failed the initial assessment of the suitability of their names and logos while 62 have passed the initial assessment. Nine (9) associations have undergone verification of their offices and proposed leadership while 16 are either awaiting verification or yet to supply supporting documents.
On the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja calling for the arrest of the commission’s chairman, the media aide to INEC boss said the commission will not be joining words with the presiding Judge.
He however stated that the commission had appealed the earlier ruling.
“The Commission will not join issues with the Hon. Justice Pam. However, the INEC Chairman had already filed an appeal against his previous ruling and the Court’s attention was drawn to this fact,” he stated.
A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Pam on Wednesday ordered the Inspector General of Police to arrest and produce INEC chairman in Court on August 14, 2018.
On the latest issue of vote buying, he said despite the powers granted the commission by the electoral Act, it will be difficult to check the menace without the involvement of all the stakeholders.
According to him, “Indeed, Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) identifies “Bribery and Conspiracy” as an offence and those who contravene it are liable upon conviction to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 or both. However, INEC does not have the power to arrest offenders. But INEC wants all stakeholders to get involved in tackling this Voter Buying and Selling phenomenon. In any case, it is not a new thing, it only seems to be getting worse. Indeed, it is a threat to our democracy but it should not be INEC’s responsibility alone to tackle it.”