Interrogating INEC's N242.4 Billion Bill For 2019 Election



By Ikechukwu  Nnadozie


The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s N242. 4 billion budget proposal for the 2019 General  Election has set tongues wagging.  What could have prompted the N134 billion increment   from 2015’s N108.8 billion?   Even as the two school of Nigerian citizenry  we label hailers and wailers tackle  each other over the budget, the pertinent questions that should worry Nigerians may gradually lose significance.

All things being equal, the more than 55.3% increment processed through comparative analysis on the cost of holding elections globally will no doubt show that Nigeria ranks among countries with the most expensive election budgets while the reverse will be the case in the budgets for basic necessities like healthcare, housing, education etc.

However, analyzing objectively   the issues that has arisen from the INEC’s proposed budget while putting aside our partisan concerns, for the sake of father land and the survival of our democracy then some pertinent questions that has to do with the strength of our economy must  to be answered.  While it is everyone’s right to form and express opinion on national issues, we must hold facts in  sacred.

But before we jump to conclusions in comparing and contrasting 2015’s election budget of N108.8 billion and that of the forthcoming election of 2019 expected to gulp N242.4 billion, we must look at the parameters responsible for the huge differentials in the two INEC budgets and see if indeed there is an increase in the proposed cost of the 2019 General Election budget from the previous one and if so, probe reasons for such ridiculous increase.

The 2015 General Election gulped  N108.8 billion, at the official exchange rate of N193  to a dollar  translating  to about $560 million, this was at  the inflationary  rate according to the National Bureau of Statistics of  9.60%.

Fast-forward to 2018 and the proposed budget for the 2019 General Election, the estimate of N242.4 billion, at the exchange rate of N350 to a dollar amounts  $692.5 million dollars at an inflationary rate of about 16.5%.

A closer scrutiny at these figures shows that while the increase in Naira value of the 2019 budget from the 2015 is about 55%, the deferential in dollar parity is a paltry 19%.  If we factor in the inflationary effect of about 43% increase from 2015 it will dawn on us that we are in a high speed motion without movement.

While we examine the distinctions and contradistinctions in the proposed budget of 2019 from the previous election, we arrive at the realization that our economy is gravely ill and in urgent need of life support if it must survive: Recall that a tin of a particular brand of milk sold for N60 in 2015, today it sells for N150; 50kg bag of rice which sold for N8,000 in 2015 today sells for between N19, 000 to N20,000. Thus   the question is not really  who or which government is more corrupt than the other as it has been the topic trending on the social media since the proposed 2019 INEC budget was made public, rather we must ask why we are progressing in cycles? What are the people saddled with the responsibility of managing our economy doing? Are they competent enough to take us out of the woods?

Coming to the proposed INEC budget for 2019, it is equally  pertinent to ask if INEC is going to procure a whole set of new gadgets for the 2019 election. If so, what happened to the ones used in the previous election?  Yes it is expected that the number of eligible voters is projected to  increase by about 2.6% going by our population growth indicator, that notwithstanding,  the number of interested first time voters like my humble self will equally increase. However, is that a justification for the 132 million dollar increase in a country where we have less than 80 million eligible voters? We need worry about  these  when the electoral commission of India spent 600 million dollars in its  2014 General   Election where about 553.8 million people voted out of about 815 million registered voters and the United Kingdom spent only 142 million pounds to hold  the European Union referendum last year.

There are yet other issues to worry about, in an election year  - as it has always been the case in this clime -  when governance is relegated to the backdoor and politics takes the center stage, inflation is bound to rise as portfolio investment shrinks because of the unpredictable nature of our political environment with its realities and peculiarities, Nigerians should be concerned with the stability of the economy before and after the election else the 2023 general election might possibly hit the  one billion dollar mark.

It is imperative that the state of the economy should be of utmost concern to the electorates and the political actors as well because of its central importance, being the base on which every other structure is standing on.  It should form the basis for campaign and public discussion instead of the mudslinging we witnessed in the last General Election. Come to think of it, why do we have to spend so much in electing politicians that will eventually tell us to “go and die” when elected;   Politicians that will promise heaven on earth during the electioneering campaign and turn around after the elections to tell the world that all we do is sit at home waiting for free housing, healthcare and education as if they themselves never benefited from such?

               Nnadozie, a political scientist can be reached at  iykennadozie@yahoo.com





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