The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, slated for later in 2019, will be released during the week.
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, stated this on Monday when he appeared before a joint session of the Senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral matters to defend INEC’s 2019 budget proposal.
According to Yakubu, the total figure for the Commission’s 2019 budget proposal is N45.4billion.
Addressing the committee, he said: “This year, we are going to conduct two end-of-tenure elections into the offices of the governors in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
“Let me seize this opportunity here to say before the end of this week, INEC will issue a timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“For 2019, we were presented with an envelope of N45.5billion as our regular budget. This is the same envelope as in 2018, only slightly better than the envelopes of several years before them.
“In 2017, it was N45billion; in 2016, it was N45billion, and in 2018, it was increased marginally to N45.5billion and the same envelope was presented to the Commission in 2018 and 2019. I will say for the 2018 financial year we were fully funded. We were on the first line charge, so in terms of the releases from the executive to the Commission, we were fully funded."
Giving a breakdown of the budget items, he continued: "The first one is personnel cost and in 2019; the commission is proposing the sum of N21.8billion to cover consolidated salaries for 16,455 career employees of INEC and 51 political office holders, making a total of 16,506 employees of the commission in 2019.
“The personnel cost is broken into two subheads. You have the consolidated salary of N17.5billion and you have the social contribution, National Health Insurance, contributory pension, and employee compensation of N4.3billion.”
Noting that the overhead cost is N4.2billion, while the third budget head is for electoral expenditure, he added: “The Commission is proposing the sum of N17.7 billion under the electoral expenditure to cover such activities as monitoring party primaries, conventions, voter education, stakeholder meeting legal expenses and others."
N1.6billion was proposed to cover capital expenditure.
In 2015, governorship election in Bayelsa State was held on December 5, but it was declared inconclusive.
After a rerun in January 2016, Seriake Dickson, incumbent Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), polled 134,998 votes to defeat Timipre Sylva, a former Governor of the state and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 86,852 votes.
The Kogi State governorship election had held earlier, on November 22, 2015, but it was also declared inconclusive, necessitating a rerun, at the end of which Yahaya Bello of the APC was declared winner after securing 247,752 votes while Idris Wada, the incumbent Governor and PDP candidate, polled 204,877 votes.
It wasn't Bello who on the election in practice, though; he was only declared winner, being the runner-up in the APC primary, following the death of Abubakar Audu, the authentic candidate of the party, on November 22, 2015.