Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu

The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said the National Assembly may consider the N242 billion budget for 2019 polls for passage next week.

Yakubu made this known in an interview with newsmen after an executive session with the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the commission had been assured of the National Assembly’s commitment to an efficient election and would do what is necessary to make that a reality.

He said: “The most important thing to say is that INEC was invited to meet with National Assembly leadership on how the proposed budget for the 2019 elections can be speedily considered and appropriated by the National Assembly.

“We have been assured of speedy passage of the budget, perhaps as early as next week.

“N242 billion is the total amount proposed.”

Yakubu commended the leadership of the National Assembly for calling for the meeting.

He said with the meeting, the commission was re-energised and reassured that its plans for the 2019 elections were on course with regard to funding.

He said: “We have from today, exactly 191 days to the opening of polling units at 8am on Saturday the 16th of February, 2019.

“There are activities that we have to undertake for a minimum of six months to the election date.

“Six months to the election date kick starts from 15th of August, which means we have only eight days to the commencement of these activities.

“We are confident that with this meeting, all the grey areas will be ironed out and as we are concerned, our component of the cost of the election will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly.

“This is the first time in the history of our election that the budget for the election will be subjected to approval by the National Assembly this way.

“We want to thank you for the reassurance that the commission will not be constrained in any way in the conduct of the election.”

Yakubu disclosed that the commission had concluded plans for the election, adding that it was waiting for the necessary funding to commence implementation.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said there was a need to know the details of budget in order to appropriate properly.

Saraki said: “The purpose of this meeting is to get the feedback from you and the time frame of the things you need, the kind of funding you need.

“By then, we will be able to know how best we can assist you.”

Saraki expressed the National Assembly’s commitment to assisting the commission.

He said: “As you know, over the last few years we have worked very closely with you to ensure that we raise the standard of our election processes by periodic amendments to the Electoral Act and other forms of support.

“I am more committed than ever to ensure that we have an election that is not only free and safe, but credible, better than what we did in 2015.

“The only way to do that is to ensure you have all the necessary tools that will make it efficient.

“You cannot perform if you do not have the necessary tools.

“So, our role is to support you.”

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