INEC seeks financial autonomy for SIECS
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has called for financial autonomy for State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) for timely conduct of credible council elections across the country.
Yakubu made the call yesterday during a parley with members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON) at INEC headquarters, Abuja.
The 1999 Constitution empowers SIECs to conduct council elections while INEC conducts elections into federal, state legislative and governorship seats.
Political watchers have described elections conducted by SIECs into the councils in most states as mere appointments and not democratic elections as provided for by the constitution.
It was on this note that the eighth National Assembly also moved to return the mandate of conducting council polls to INEC.
But the INEC boss explained that for council elections to be credible, financial independence of the SIECs must be guaranteed.
Yakubu said, “There is a special relationship between INEC and SIECs. We are creations of same section of the constitution, but we are saddled with different responsibilities. We (INEC) provide register of political parties and voters to SIECs when they want to conduct council elections. We also share same facilities like ballot boxes.
“The independence of an electoral commission cannot be guaranteed where there is no financial independence. We will work together with you to ensure financial independence for the SIECs to help in the conduct of credible elections.”
Yakubu explained to lawmakers that intense “pressure” faced by the commission was responsible for the repeated disregard for budgetary appropriation to the commission in its expenditure.
He said the commission’s budget status gave it the flexibility to move funds from one head to another in its bid to in compliance with its mandate.
The INEC boss spoke at the National Assembly joint committee budget defence session on INEC yesterday while responding to questions on extra budgetary spending on its overhead and group insurance items in the 2019 budget.
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