Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, yesterday said N2.9 billion will be needed to conduct by-elections into vacant elective offices at both federal and state levels next month.
Iwu, who was at the National Assembly yesterday, to defend the Commission’s budget, said a total of N2.34 billion would be required for legal services and another N1.26 billion to purchase materials for continuous voters’ registration next year.
Iwu, while defending the Commission’s N12.7 billion allocation in the 2008 Budget before the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, headed by Musa Sarkin Adar, also said apart from conducting the first batch of the by-election, which were shifted to January to enable Muslims return from pilgrimage to Mecca, the Commission is to embark on delineation of constituencies across the country next year.
He said N166 million will be used to purchase balloting materials, N150 million for non-sensitive materials, N150 million for distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive materials and N2.5 billion for honoraria for the by-elections and recall.
Iwu said litigations arising from poll results and computerisation of the legal department will gulp N20 million each, while payment of professional fees and external solicitors will take another N2.3 billion.
He said delineation of senatorial, state and local constituencies will take about six months to complete., adding that INEC is embarking on the exercise, because some states have far less constituencies than they should have.
He told the committee that the Commission will give the 50 political parties statutory grants amounting to N600 million, next year and may soon begin to assist Student Union Governments in the tertiary institution to conduct their elections.
Members of the committee commended the Commission for completing 65 out of the 67 projects it embarked upon in 2007 and urged the Commission to employ at least 2000 staff, as part of its efforts to reduce employment in the country, instead of about 1,500 it earlier proposed.
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