2011: INEC NEEDS MORE N8 BILLION MORE – JEGA

The Independent National Electoral Commission is still short of the required funds for the smooth conduct of next year’s general elections because the Federal Government shaved off N8 billion from the its capital budget for the year, Prof Attahiru Jega has said.

Answering questions from a team of journalists when he featured on a Voice of Nigeria live programme yesterday, the INEC chairman said the slashed funds were meant to repair dilapidated state and local government offices of the commission across the country.
He said the commission wanted to use its own funds to repair the offices so as to reduce the dependence of INEC officials on state and local governments, thereby insulating them from manipulation by governors and local government chairmen.

“Let me say this so that I will not quoted out of context… We met a budget on ground and you are aware that the 2010 appropriations were reduced. That budget cut also affected us because while we were requesting for the N74 billion naira for the direct data capture machines and other logistics, our capital budget was reduced by N8 billion naira,” Jega said.

“That money was meant to address some of the infrastructure decay in our state and local government offices which are in the state of disrepair. How do you expect us to handle this situation? But we will be making a representation to the government on this so that we will reduce to the minimum the dependence of our staff on governors and local government chairman for some logistics because we found out that some of them make themselves available to be used by going to them (governors and LG chairmen) to request for one favour or the other.”

The chairman said arrangements are in top gear to embark on fresh voter registration from the last week of October through to the first week of November. He said the commission’s projection is to register 70 million Nigerians for the 2011 general elections and urged all Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity in order not to give politicians the chance to manipulate the process.

“No matter what we do, even if we procure 120,000 direct data capture machines and we have excellent logistic deployment and we have well trained staff, if Nigerians do not come out to register, there will still be problem with the voter register.

“We believe that within a period of two weeks, working 8 hours in a day, we should be able to capture up to 70 million Nigerians if there are those number of Nigerians to be captured,” he said.

“By our own projections there may be up to that number of registrable Nigerians, statistically. But in reality, we can only wait and see. However, for planning purposes, we have to assume that there may be up to 70million registrable Nigerians,” he added.

Speaking on the high expectations of Nigerians on the electoral body under his leadership, Jega said though he would not give absolute guarantees on success of the electoral process, he could guarantee that he would not be used to circumvent any process.

He said: “We cannot give absolute guarantees. We can only guarantee what we can do but we cannot guarantee what individual stakeholders can do in the process… As a political scientist I know there is what is called the crisis of rising expectation. If there are too many expectations, no matter how hard you try there will still be those whom you will never satisfy. All you have to do is to satisfy yourself that you have done your best to ensure that as many people as possible can also vouch that you have done your best.

“We know that the expectations of Nigerians are very very high and we know that we cannot meet all the expectations but …the way we are determined, the way we are resolved, the way we are focused, we can make a difference. That is why we are saying that things will be better than before.”

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