The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is bracing for next year’s general elections – without cash.
The polls are 291 days away, but there is no cash yet for INEC’s N300 billion budget.
The cash squeeze is likely to affect the timelines for the elections, unless the Executive and the Legislature move fast to reverse the situation.
INEC has to procure more than 800 materials for the conduct of a successful poll but none has been bought.
Some materials needed for the polls take six to seven months to procure, The Nation learnt.
INEC in January submitted over N300 billion budget to the Presidency for vetting and presentation to the National Assembly.
The cash is expected to be drawn from a special vote outside the commission’s 2018 budget, which is stuck at the National Assembly alongside those of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A source in INEC said: “We have submitted a budget of over N300billion for the 2019 poll but there has been no response or feedback from the Executive and the National Assembly. We have made a formal request for funds.
“We have about 291 days to the 2019 general elections, we have not bought a pin. Yet, we have to submit all our procurements to due process.
“Lack of funds is really affecting our preparation for the poll. We are behind time, going by our past schedule for the release of funds for 2011 and 2015 elections.
“For 2011 elections, INEC started drawing down the election budget in 2009 and by 2010, we had received more than 90 per cent of the funds required.”
The source added: “INEC needs to procure over 800 materials for the 2019 polls, especially some vital components of Smart Card Readers, Ballot Papers, Ballot Boxes, Result Sheets, among others.
“Some of these materials take six to seven months to procure. And if you add due process clause, they may require eight months to get.
“We need to learn from the past. Despite the fact that by 2014, INEC had made substantial progress on preparation for the 2015 poll, it still asked for a little extension of the timeline.”
The source expressed fears that the poll timetable might be affected if funds were not released on time to INEC.
The source said: “Even if we get the election budget, we have to work between 8am and 2am daily to put everything in proper shape for the poll.
“This is why we want to appeal to all those concerned with the release of the funds to assist INEC.”
According to the polls timetable, party primaries for the presidential, governorship, federal and state elections will begin on August 18 and end on October 7.
The presidential election will hold on February 16, 2019, the governorship and state assembly elections will be conducted on March 2, 2019.