The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has alleged sabotage of the commission’s activities by some unnamed officials working for the commission.
Jega, who spoke at a stakeholders’ forum on transparent, credible, free and fair 2015 elections organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Reform of Government Institutions yesterday, however, absolved many of the commission’s staff of any blame.
“When we came to the commission, we made it very clear that it was not going to be business as usual. We told them that we have to comply with the constitution. From our own assessment, overwhelming majority of the staff in INEC are honest, decent and are doing their best. A few bad eggs exist who create negative impression for everybody.
“But in the process, people are there doing their best without intimidation. Frankly, evidence does not support that. I want to say we’re doing our best to keep on improving INEC by motivating the staff and ensuring that they are well taking care of,” he said.
On funding for the 2015 elections, Jega said: “With regards to funding, I think one of the challenges of funding to the electoral commission is that there should be a recognition that there is an electoral circle.
“As soon as elections end, preparations for next elections, four years down the line, have to commence. We are full of appreciation to what the National Assembly has done to give us the funding we required during the 2011 elections.
“After the 2011 elections, there was a lapse. Yes we got a lot of money to do the 2011 elections, but in 2012, it declined and in 2013 it further declined. As I speak with you, there is a huge funding gap between what we believe is required to be able to do the 2015 elections and what has been appropriated. I cannot sit down here and lie.
“But I know that both President Goodluck Jonathan and leadership of the National Assembly are doing their best to see how that funding gap can be effectively. addressed. So, it is an appropriation challenge. Ideally, when we say INEC is independent, we should do everything possible to ensure the independence of INEC,” he said.
“When we came in, almost two-third of our local government offices are either in rented accommodation or inside small offices in the local government headquarters.
“We made a case, and in the 2010, in the supplementary appropriation, we were given money to do 75 new local government offices. We had hoped that that funding regime would continue. If it had continued, we would have moved substantial of our local government offices outside the residences or outside the local government headquarters. But it declined from 75 to I think about 25 and about 10.
“We were given money in 2011 to buy vehicles, and I think we bought in more than one-third of the local governments’ offices. But as I speak with you, in subsequent years, the budget declined. We still do not have vehicles in some of our local government offices,” he added.