The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has announced the commencement of electronic balloting, continuous voter’s registration in 2021 ahead of 2023 general election in Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it is determined to deploy electronic balloting machines in future elections, beginning with the 2021 Anambara governorship election
The Commission also disclosed that it will begin the Continuous Voter Registration (CRV) and distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in the first quarter of 2021.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu made disclosure on Wednesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters to defend the 2021 budget proposals at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
Responding to questions by the lawmakers, Yakubu said: “The collection of Permanent Voter Cards is tied to the Resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration. The law requires the Commissioning to do registration of voters on a continuous basis. Because of Covid-19 and two major elections this year we couldn’t have started the continuous registration so the intention is to do so as I said earlier is in the first quarter of next year and the cards should be made available”.
He also noted that there can not be delimitation of constituencies unless there is constitutional amendment as the number of seats in both Chambers of the National Assembly has been provided for in the Constitution.
Yakubu said: “The truth is that we can’t create additional constituencies because the number for the House of Representatives and the Senate is fixed in the Constitution. There are 360 constituencies. We can’t create one additional constituency and we can’t reduce.
“So the solution actually lies in the hands of Honourable Members. If you want additional constituencies to be created, the Constitution has to be amended to provide for the number of constituencies to be created”.
On the budget, the INEC Chairman said the Commission was given the envelope of N45.5 billion in 2019 and the envelop for 2020 dropped by N5.5 billion to N40 billion which further dropped to N36 billion because of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that N28.3 billion has been released on monthly installment basis with a little over N7 billion left.
According to Yakubu, the total envelope for the 2021 budget is N40 billion, out of which personnel cost takes N23.218 billion, overhead cost gets N2.441 billion and the capital expenditure is to gulp N300 million.
Meanwhile a mild drama ensued when Members of the Committee on Electoral Matters disagreed with their Chairman, Aishatu Dukku (APC, Gombe)
on the modalility she employed in engaging the INEC Chairman on the performance of the Commission’s 2020 budget.
The Committee also curiously sent out all the National Commissioners that accompanied their Chairman and met only with him in a closed door session.
Chairman of the Committee, Dukku had after her opening remarks called on Yakubu to give appraisal of the Commission’s 2020 budget performance, as well as make presentation of the 2021 estimates, but was immediately interjected by a member of the Committee, Solomon Bob from Rivers State.
He said: “The Committee did not carry out any oversight on the Commission in the year, but here are we, being called upon to superintendent over another budget”.
But Dukku replied that the 2020 was affected by the lockdown occasioned by outbreak of the COVID-19, saying: “Honourable colleague, I rule you out of order”, and urged Yakubu to commence his presentation.
The Committee moved into a closed door session, after the INEC Chairman ended his appraisal of the Commission’s 2020 budget performance, following a suggestion by Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, (PDP, Abia), which was immediately supported by Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf, (PDP, kogi).
“The executive session is very important because 2020 is where the issues are. The budget has been implemented, so that we don’t have to be asking the Chairman (Yakubu) subjective questions on the issue raised”, Yusuf said.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye who also accompanies the Chairman told journalists that there was nothing strange about the Committee opting to meet with only Yakubu behind closed doors.
“They have their own rules, they set their own rules so we have to comply. They can invite only the chairman for a meeting, so there is nothing strange in what is happening now”, he said.