Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Hajia Amina Zakari has confessed that the commission is not yet prepared for the polls due to non-release of funds by the federal government.
The Acting Chair stated this during an interview, lamented that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has not made funds available for the electoral umpire to start major preparations.
Zakari maintained that the more than N100 million budget allocated for the governorship election had not been released.
INEC in July fixed November 21, and December 5, 2015 for the conduct of governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa respectively.
The information which was contained in a statement by INEC’s Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Chris Iyimoga had added that primaries for the elections would be held on or before August 23, 2015 and September 5, 2015, respectively for the two States in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2014 (as amended).
Governorship elections did not hold in the affected States during the last April 11 governorship election because the tenures of the two Governors were yet to end.
Zakari stated that, approaching the Federal Government for funding was the only choice.
“For Kogi, I am still expecting the budget, but we have done the budget for CVR and PVC distribution. They were approved when there were enough members of the commission.
“For Kogi, we are coming up with the budget. For Bayelsa, we have to go back to government for the budget. Nonetheless, we have started preparation.
“We had preliminary meeting with the RECs last Wednesday to discuss modalities for the CVR. We have a work plan for the CVR, so we want to start early. Then we would have a work plan for the elections. We should soon get approval for Kogi.
“We would get a memo and budget for Kogi. But for Bayelsa, we have to go back to government because we had anticipated Bayelsa to be in next year’s budget, but due to the timelines approved in the constitution, it is better to prosecute the two elections this year.
“Next year, we take Ondo and Edo, so that we can have a paced process so we don’t get inundated with too many elections like we did between 2011 and 2015, so we can tidy up and ensure seamless delivery of credible elections to Nigerians.
“The processes have started. We are comfortable. The RECs are already doing what they need to do at the lower level.
“I always told the staff there are soft issues you can do without money. You can begin preparations without money. While you are waiting for the core issues, you can begin with soft preparations and this is the example of what we are doing. In fact, our timelines have not been derailed for any reason.”
On the amount to be spent on Kogi election she said; “Normally, for governorship elections, it costs us between N500 million and N600 million.
“This is all inclusive. It includes payment of ad hoc staff and the bulk of our cost is usually the payment of honorarium to ad hoc staff. But we have some savings.
“We still have leftovers, non-sensitive materials from the 2015 elections, and we are not going to procure a lot. We will just concentrate on procuring the sensitive materials.”
Following the appointment of Zaraki by President Muhamamdu Buhari, political analysts had condemned the action stressing that she lacked the needed integrity, based on her unholy romance with the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the then National Electoral Commissioner in Jigawa State.