Ahead of next year’s general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that it has received a substantial amount of its budget to prepare and conduct the polls in 2023.
Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure when he spoke as a special guest of honour during the second edition of #FixPolitics Dialogue organised to engage the INEC on the commission’s independence and the future of elections in Nigeria.
Yakubu who left the session before it fully came to life for an emergency official engagement was later represented by Prof Mohammad J. Kuna, who spoke on the topic: “INEC and the Future of Nigerian Elections,” in a two-hour interactive virtual session attended by several panelists including Ambassadors of the United States to Nigeria and her counterparts from the United Kingdom, the European Union, United Nations and African Union as well as civil society organisations in the country.
While fielding questions from the panelists and other members in attendance regarding the provision of the new Electoral Act, the independence of the INEC, funding and preparation for subsequent elections in the country, he said the commission was fully prepared for the 2023 general elections considering the amount made available to it so far.
Yakubu added: “As for fund, the commission has received significant amount for the conduct of the 2023 elections that would enable it to do a substantial part of what is needed for the election. Not all the funds have been released but a substantial part of it have been made available.”
The INEC representative also spoke on the operational context in which electoral management bodies across the world operate, the nature of political competitions and culture, strength and weakness of institutions and the impacts they have on the electoral process of the country, noting that several commission of inquiries had shown how political interests and electoral contexts affects electoral and political process, especially in Nigerian due to desperation on the part of political actors, the state and the tendency to win election at all cost.
He said: “I want to speak on the notion of independence, not only for institutions but also of individuals. I think that it’s important to emphasise that the notion of freedom from both individuals and the freedom of institutions are things that have to be placed in their proper context”
“All over the world, individuals have been fighting for freedom but that freedom hasn’t been given. But both individuals and institutions have to take steps to get that independence they have or that which they ought to have.
“I think in terms of the operations of INEC, over the years, there have been concrete efforts to ensure that freedom and independence. Having said so, elections management bodies across the world operate within and response to specific political competition in the country or the area we are looking at.”
Citing the Babalakin Commission of Inquiry, he said political contest has always been a cut throat process between politicians and political culture.