The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has lamented that insecurity, social media and the attitude of politicians have adversely affected democracy in Nigeria, even as he explained that the cost of conducting elections in Nigeria is also caused by lack of trust in public institutions.
Yakubu who spoke in Lagos yesterday at the Editors’ Forum of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) held at the Rembrandt Hotel, Ikeja, said the voting population of Nigeria is higher than the entire 14 of the 15 nations that make up the ECOWAS sub-region.
Yakubu said that the conduct of elections in the country amounts to about 1.8 per cent of the national budget, a figure he stressed is heavy compared with other nations in the world.
He also cited the high number of voters as one of the reasons for higher cost of conducting elections.
According to him, 60 per cent of the electoral cost is spent on logistics and personnel allowances. He disclosed that for the 2019 election, the commission employed 1.4 million ad hoc staff even as it deployed over 18,000 motor vehicles and several hundreds of boats for the riverine areas of the country.
He explained that elections have to be conducted in all the nooks and crannies of the country at once saying this definitely would cost a lot of money in terms of logistics and personnel.
He said however that there was no need for raising the alarm on the cost of conducting elections in Nigeria, saying the INEC budget for the 2023 general election which was put at N305 billion is just 1.8 per cent of the federal budget.
“For the 2023 general election in Nigeria for instance, preparation had been made for 95 million voters, yes, we have 84 million registered voters now, we have only recently registered 12 million voters but none of the recent registration has been added to the register. We are cleaning up and when we heard a few days ago that there are some fictitious names on the register, we say which register. We are not even compiling them yet, we are cleaning up, so that rumour is unfounded,” Yakubu said.
INEC boss reiterated the commitment of the commission towards conducting a credible election,
He said the commission will deploy more technology to make rigging impossible.
He pledged that the 2023 election will be free, fair, credible and verifiable.