A Non-governmental organization, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s budget for the 2019 general elections as “fraudulent, criminal and highly unsustainable.” HURIWA, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko,also accused the hierarchy of INEC of being deliberately averse to openness, transparency and accountability in the proposed budget by adopting some opaque nomenclatures and sub-heads to mask their deliberate plots to probably swindle the Nigerian state of huge amount of public fund in the guise of conducting election.
The group also frowned at the extensive delay by the Federal Government in presenting the proposed 2019 election budget and expressed bewilderment that a government that claims to be operating on the mantra of anti-corruption could wait until the eleventh hour before presenting a budget for a national event of significance such as a general election that is only few months away. The Rights group specifically condemned the current hierarchy in INEC for failing to open up the procurement activities that take place within that agency.
It, therefore, urged the National Assembly to conduct extensive forensic examination of the specific components of the overall budget of N189.2 billion presented to it by INEC so as to bring the entire budget to comply with extant provisions governing procurement in accordance with the Bureau of public procurement Act. HURIWA also accused the electoral panel of duplicating several sub-heads of the budget proposal which shows that there is some kind of a sinister AGENDUM which would undermine the global best practices of strictest compliance to the principles of transparency and accountability.
The statement continues, “We urge the National Assembly not to capitulate under the heavyweight of propaganda and executive blackmail to approve this criminally- minded budget that has just been presented by INEC. “The suspicious sub-heads in that budget proposal includes the N5.124 billion budgeted for nationwide continuous voter registration exercise which is a big scam going by the universal truth that update of voter registration is about winding up. Also the incredible amount of N4.689 billion voted for feeding of security operatives for the election is simply a smokescreen to cover up for the anticipated heist that will happen the moment the cash drops in INEC’s treasury.
“The N4.614 billion classified as miscellaneous expenses is fraudulent and must never be approved just as the win components of N134.427 billion for election operation cost and N22.660 Billion for election administrative cost are duplication meant to conceal the cash that would inevitably be siphoned. The budget for payment of foreign observers lacks credibility and should be discarded.”
HURIWA dismissed the entire proposal as the biggest scam of the century just as it calls on Nigerians of goodwill to speak up and monitor the Independent National Electoral Commission closely to stop the leadership of that agency from destroying our hard earned democracy through subterfuge and deliberate sabotage.
“We believe that the entire exercise of presenting the 2019 Election budget in August 2018 when it could have been done in January is a motive for sabotaging the smooth conduct of the election or it might be a poorly crafted strategy to blackmail the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to approve the shambolic budget which invariably contains many suspicious sub-heads that are just the well choreographed schemes to siphon public fund in this era of severe economic adversity.”