This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Costing the 2015 Elections

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He therefore admonished Jega and INEC to take a cue from the recent Anambra governorship election and "do a postmortem, so that we can improve on the identified failings during the election as we move towards 2015″.

Generally, it is believed that INEC under Jega has been receiving so much money for elections. There are also those who are already apprehensive that with the benefit of hindsight, the current figure for 2015 general election might escalate as it was during the 2011 election.

The cost of the 2011 general election, it would be recalled, was put at a staggering N470.78 billion, which represented about 1.9 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Several international observers referred to the electoral process as very expensive and among world records in terms of costly elections.

Controversy over the cost of elections is not new. In 2007, INEC submitted a supplementary budget of N19.7 billion to the House of Representatives as a result of its delay in submitting to the budget office on time. This was followed by outcries. Then Special Adviser to the president on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit, Professor Adekunle Wahab, criticised INEC for inflating its budget by N34million. He reminded the legislators that its original budget of N70billion forwarded to the budget office for 2006 budget was slashed to N52billion.

"Most people accused us of removing the butter from their bread. When the butter is too much on the bread, it becomes difficult to know whether you want to eat bread or butter". Also in 2007, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Alhaji Umar Abubakar, queried why N3billion was set aside for the purchase of ballot boxes in the supplementary budget, after same amount was approved for the same item in the 2006 budget.

Piqued by the huge public funds that would be wasted if the funds were approved for INEC, and the fact that the people always feel shortchanged by the outcomes of most elections, many are grumbling. Their concern is not just about the cost of the election, but more of a demand for value for money. The only way this could be achieved, observers thought, is by giving the people free, fair and credible elections. And where this is not so, INEC should make bold to declare that such elections are not acceptable.

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