- Commission warns against threat of violence
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the budget estimates for the 2019 general election will most likely double the amount voted for the 2015 exercise.
Speaking at an event organised by the coalition of civil society groups under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room wednesday in Abuja the National Commissioner representing Anambra State, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who represented the Chairman of the commission, said the 2019 election budget would take into consideration the present realities including the exchange rates.
According to Ibeanu, the commission spent between N115 billion and N120 billion to organise the 2015 general election, adding that the amount is likely to double in 2019.
“If you look at the last budgetary estimates we do not need any science around it at all. My estimates is that about 50 per cent of the INEC cost involves spending money abroad that means that it will be affected by the exchange rates. Now you can do a computation of 40-50 per cent at N150 per a aollar in 2015 and N360 to a dollar right now. You can imagine what the present the picture will be like and this will enable us have an idea of what the present estimate will be.
“But I can assure you that INEC has done everything possible to keep the budget for the 2019 elections consistent with the existing realities in the country.
The INEC commissioner also said the fact that the commission may likely introduce a number of new innovations and additional round of elections means that the budget will be huge.
He said the other very important aspect of preparations for the general election is how to get citizens aware by way of sensitisation.
According to him, with an increased voter population of about 80 million and 68 political parties which may likely hit the 80 mark before the election, conducting the poll will definitely be a Herculean task.
Ibeanu also expressed fear of the likelihood of threat of electoral violence in some parts of the country.
“The threat of electoral violence remains real in some parts of the country and it is one major concern of the commission. This is one major area that the civil society has a role to play, and I will like to implore the Situation Room to include it in its intervention, especially in this issue of hate speech and how some people are mobilizing negative sly and tying to cast groups in bad light.
“Liberal elections are about individual citizens and how to make choice on who ruled them but when people begin to make negative mobilisation to cast aspersions on ethnic groups and religious groups than we may be crossing a very dangerous line,” he said
He said INEC would be giving further details on the states considered as flash points in due course.