By Seun Opejobi
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said, eligible voters registration exercise will commence in 2021 ahead of 2023 general elections.
Speaking at the budget defence, Wednesday, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu explained that the commission was aware of those who have attained the eligible age, stating that once, they commenced, it will be continuous for the next 18 months; which is about six months before the general elections.
Mahmood revealed that a whooping sum of N1 billion has been budgeted for the exercise.
Speaking on plans for possible Diaspora voting in an interview, he backed the development saying: “The electoral body is ready to roll out for Diaspora voting to enable more eligible Nigerian citizens working in diplomatic missions or those permanently living abroad to vote.
The Chairman, however, expressed fears that Diaspora Nigerians are currently encumbered from voting, until there was an amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act by the National Assembly.
“We welcome the idea of “early voting” (as it is being done in many neighboring countries) to enable people on essential services including Journalists, INEC staff, Security personnel who are usually on election duties exercise their voting rights.
“We require amendment to the Electoral Act to enable Nigerians vote with their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) anywhere they find themselves,” adding that a sum of N40 billion budget was presented to the National Assembly for 2021 to cater for personnel cost; overhead, electoral expenses and a mounting list of litigations.
He lamented that the Commission pays hugely for litigation arising from elections, while he revealed that INEC pays an average of N4.5 million to secure the service of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); which is a legal scale from the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The initial envelope of N40 billion for 2020 was revised and drastically reduced to N30 billion.
To make up for the shortfall; INEC sought Senate approval to pinch N5.2 billion from a “Special INEC Fund”.
The INEC Fund is a provision in the Electoral Act 2010 that enables INEC to save percentage of its allocation for emergency duties and rainy days.