House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters and Political Party Affairs, during the budget presentation session by the commission, Yakubu emphasised the urgency of finding replacements for the RECs.
This came in affirmation when chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, also disclosed that, by March 2017, five resident electoral commissioners (RECs) would retire, bringing the total number of states without RECs to 33.
On the planned expenditure of the commission, he said N1.4 billion was to be used for the purchase of ballot boxes for the conduct 2019 general elections, adding that INEC intended to phase out the collapsible transparent ballot boxes and replace them with plastic ones.
He expressed regret that despite the willingness of the committee to patronize locally made products; local manufacturers have not displayed the ability to deliver the required volume within the timeframe for elections. Yakubu also said that the commission earmarked N500 million for the continuous voter registration exercise across the country: “Sometimes, it is easier said that we have manufacturers who have the capacity but when you engage them you realise that we may not have such capacity for volumes and this is not only peculiar to elections.
“Immediately you try to produce something locally, somebody rushes to register a patent and claims ownership of that idea. Right now, we have litigations of people who said the patent for smart card reader is theirs,” he said.
“And they will get some favourable judgement that we should pay them some fantastic amount. While it is important for us to encourage our domestic producers, we are also careful about that particularly because some of the procurement items are time bound.”
Chairperson of the committee, Aishatu Dukku, stressed the need for transparency in the 2017 budget to reflect the level of accountability within the commission:
“Election management bodies face the formidable challenge of ensuring that stakeholders have trust in the electoral process.
“The identification and adoption of best practices in electoral framework and administration among nations have resulted in placing countries under pressure to introduce electoral reform measures.
“I am strongly advocating that this electoral reform measures will form part of the budget of INEC.