The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced plans to resume registrations of eligible voters.
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission ,Professor Yakubu Mahmood, said the exercise will last for a period of 18 months and stop 6 months before the 2023 general election.
Mahmood who stated in an interview with journalists shortly after his 2021 budget defence at the Senate on Wednesday, said the commission has earmarked the sum of N1 billion to kick start the registration exercise.
The INEC boss also disclosed that the electoral body will put modalities in place to enable eligible Nigerian citizens working in diplomatic missions or those permanently living abroad to vote.
He however said for the Diaspora voting to be a reality,the National Assembly must amend the 2010 Electoral Act.
The electoral umpire welcomed the idea of “early voting” 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 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 the INEC boss said he had no problem with its budget performance for 2019, he said commission encountered a few financial challenges in the budget for 2020 as a result of 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 is seeking for Senate approval to pinch N5.2 billion from a “Special INEC Fund”.
The special INEC Fund is a provision in the Electoral Act 2010 that enables INEC save percentage of its allocation for emergency duties and rainy days. and no withdrawal has been made from the Special INEC Fund in the last 10 years.