The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the N305 billion required to conduct the 2023 elections would be used majorly to meet the commission’s technological needs to better serve the country.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, INEC’s National Commission, Festus Okoye, disclosed that part of the money will be used to conduct elections in some states where the gubernatorial polls fall outside the regular schedule.
In defending the request for the funds as made by INEC’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the commission’s spokesman noted that all that has been asked for is the best interest of the Nigerian people.
Explaining in detail, Mr Okoye said, “the issue is very clear. The first was that there was a provision of N140 billion to the appropriations committee, from the Executive.
“Out of this, N40bn was for our regular budget which decreases on a yearly basis. So the first N100 billion we classified it as the first tranche for our 2023 general election,” the commissioner stated
He added: “Now as you are aware, we are going to conduct the Ekiti and Osun governorship election in June and July and so from that N100 billion we are going to take some money to conduct the elections in these two states.
“Secondly, as you are aware, the commission is introducing a new technology in the electoral process and it is a multi-functional tech that will take care of voter registration issues, accreditation of voters, and issues of uploading and transmission of electoral results.”
While noting that the smartcard readers have been retired for not serving INEC perfectly anymore, Mr Okoye said this new technology has to be acquired, noting that the advancement is quite expensive but worth it.
According to him, the commission’s projection is that since Nigeria now has a total of 176,846 polling units, then at least 200,000 beavers (the new tech) will serve the purpose of the upcoming elections.
He stressed that there is a need for the equipment to be purchased early enough, adding that while the purchase might be very expensive, they help cut off every worry with regards to registrations, accreditation, and transmission of election results
Mr Okoye assured Nigerians that this modern tech will be a one-off thing that could serve the country for two electoral cycles before the advent of more modern tech.
Speaking about President Buhari’s decline to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Okoye, who is also INEC Chairman for Information and Voter Education, said it is unfortunate that the direct primaries have overshadowed the entire bill.
He said the bill is a very progressive one that contains provisions that would make the electoral process more free and fair.
Mr Okoye expressed hope that whatever challenges or provisions are holding the assent of the bill will be resolved quickly.