The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group has called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) budget.
The group in a communiqué issued on Thursday and signed by its Executive Director, Dr Chima Amadi, at the end of one-day roundtable held in Abuja, said any delay might “jeopardise” the preparations for the 2019 general elections.
Other signatories to the communique were Ms Faith Nwadishi, Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Mr Abdul Mahmud, Public Interest Lawyers League; Mr Sheriff Mulade, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, among others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter dated July 11, requested Senate’s approval of N242.45 billion for the 2019 General Elections.
The sum of N189.21 billion was earmarked for INEC.
The group warned that all forms of intrigues and politics associated with the budget should cease immediately for national interest and good.
The group faulted the delay of the INEC budget by the Executive, which was submitted to it since Jan. 2018 by the commission.
According to the group , the logjam regarding the INEC Budget is unacceptable and unnecessary as the Executive ought to have submitted the budget to the National Assembly long before now.
It urged INEC to continue to be proactive by submitting their budget proposal in good time in a transparent and open manner.
The group also recommended an urgent review of the appropriation process, especially when it involves the needs of INEC knowing the importance and role the Commission plays in the stabilisation of Nigeria’s democracy.
“We note the hard fact that the INEC budget is not like contracts that can be hidden from public purview as activities of INEC are open and easily verifiable by citizens, stakeholders, and in fact, any interested party.
“That suspension of elections where there are infringements and security breaches as was done in the Rivers state constituency by-election to protect lives and property and the integrity of the electoral process and elections should now be the norm.
“All perpetrators of election violence must be severely punished according to the law to serve as deterrent to others.
“The allegations of budget padding draws from mischief or an inadequate appreciation of the issues involved, therefore, we recommend that all parties should strive to verify issues and INEC should operate an open door policy for these clarification.
“We recommend also that stakeholders should utilise the quarterly stakeholders dialogue by the INEC Chairman to seek for information and clarify issues.”
The stakeholders, drawn from different interests that cover the Civil Society, the political class, the media and citizens among others, condemned in strong term, the use of thugs and and security personnel to harass citizens and INEC officials.
” We condemn the actions of the Police and other security agencies that were used by politicians to disrupt the elections thereby putting the lives of INEC staff and citizens in danger.
“This is bizarre, shameful, embarrassing, disgraceful and condemnable. We, however, commend INEC for taking quick measures to suspend the election so as to protect the integrity of the election .”