The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has defended a supplementary budget of N18 billion at the National Assembly, largely aimed at addressing the issue of staff welfare and allowances.
INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu, according to the electoral body’s daily bulletin on Thursday in Abuja, led a team from the commission to defend the supplementary budget before the House of Reps Committee on Electoral Matters and the Senate Committee on INEC on Wednesday.
INEC had earlier sent a proposal of N18 billion to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and defended it. FEC later referred the commission to the National Assembly for approval.
Mr Yakubu, during the budget defence, stated that N10.6 billion would enable INEC to pay its members of staff the 40 per cent increase in peculiarity allowance approved by President Bola Tinubu’s government, said the bulletin.
Mr Yakubu added that over N3 billion of the budget would be used to pay INEC staff the award of N35,000 approved for each public servant across the country for six months by the Tinubu government, as well as the new duty tour allowance.
The INEC chair said the electoral body would spend N1.6 billion to conduct 11 outstanding bye-elections, comprising five federal constituencies, four state constituencies and two senatorial districts.
According to Mr Yakubu, another N1.4 billion is for the augmentation of the cost differentials in the budget for the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi governorship elections.
The bulletin explained that the development was expected to bring relief to INEC’s staff, who clamoured for improved welfare in the face of the economic hardship experienced due to the removal of the fuel subsidy and consequent increase in the price of petrol.
It said Mr Yakubu, at a consultative meeting with the resident electoral commissioners in Abuja, appealed to the officials to inform staff in their respective states of measures put in place by INEC to address the economic challenges facing them.
Mr Yakubu explained that the six agencies, including INEC, have yet to receive funds to offset payment of the 40 per cent peculiar allowance as approved. He noted that INEC was not unmindful of the economic hardship experienced by the staff.
Mr Yakubu said that the commission was not resting on its laurels in its bid to get the necessary funds to pay the allowances as soon as possible.