Ahead of General Elections in 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, disclosed that the electoral body is ready to roll out for “Diaspora Voting”, to enable more eligible Nigerian citizens working in diplomatic missions or those permanently living abroad to vote.
INEC also announced plans to resume registrations of eligible voters.
The Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said once the exercise begins, it will be continuous for the next 18 months, about six months before the general election.
Mamood stated this in an interview with reporters shortly after his 2021 budget defence at the Senate on Wednesday.
He said the Commission has earmarked the sum of N1 billion to kickstart the registration exercise.
He, however, said it will require amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act by the National Assembly.
The electoral umpire welcomed the idea of “early voting” (as it is being done in many neighboring countries) to enable people on essential services including Journalists, INEC staff, Security personnel who are usually on elections duties exercise their voting rights.
This again the INEC Chair said will require amendment of the Electoral Act to enable Nigerians to vote with their Permanent Voter’s Card(PVC) anywhere they find themselves.
For 2021, INEC presented a total budget size of N40 billion to the Senate which is expected to cover for a growing personnel cost; overhead, electoral expenses and a mounting list of litigations.
At the moment, INEC pays an average of N4.5 million to secure the service of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN); a fee the Chairman said is based on a payment scale designed by the Ministry of Justice.
While INEC said it has no problem with its budget performance for 2019, the commission however encountered a few financial challenges in the budget for 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initial envelope of N40 billion for 2020 was revised and drastically reduced to N30 billion.
To make up for the shortfall, INEC sought Senate approval to pinch N5.2 billion from a “Special INEC Fund”.
The INEC Fund is a provision in the Electoral Act 2010 that enables INEC to save a percentage of its allocation for emergency duties and rainy days.
No withdrawal has been made from the Special INEC Fund in the last 10 years.