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Number of voters increased by 11.4 million… INEC explains urgency of passage of 2019 election budget

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says over four million fresh voters have been added to Nigeria’s voter register, hence the need for the National Assembly to expedite action on the consideration of the 2019 election budget.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC National Chiarman, Mahmood Yakubu, made this known on Thursday, as he tried to explain the considerations that led to the increase in the money allocated for the election by the executive arm of government.

“The number of registered voters has increased. In 2015, for instance, we had close to 70 million, but since April 27, 2017 we have registered about 11. 4 million Nigerians, so you have to take that factor into consideration as well,” Oyekanmi said.

Yakubu, the INEC boss, had held a meeting with Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Wednesday, after which he told journalists that the meeting was to sort out “grey areas” with regards to the coming general election.

“We are confident that with this meeting, all the grey areas will be ironed out and as we are concerned, our component of the cost of the election will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly,” Yakubu had said.

“This is the first time in the history of our election that the budget for the election will be subjected to approval by the National Assembly this way.

Asked what those “grey areas” could mean, Oyekanmi said all the issues will be discussed next week when the lawmakers reconvene to consider the budget.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” he said. “Next week is not a long time, Nigerians should have patience, we are going to disclose all these issues and whatever questions we’re going to be asked, we’ll be ready to provide the answers.

Oyekanmi said  INEC is stepping up media awareness, and also engaging religious and traditional leaders on the need for eligible citizen to register  and ensure they collect their Permanent Voter Cards.

On Thursday evening, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuff Lasun, told newsmen that the lawmakers have agreed to cut short their ongoing summer recess in order to consider the 2019 election budget presented before it by President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly before they embarked on recess.

Buhari had presented a budget of N292 billion naira to enable INEC and other relevant agencies prepare for the 2019 general election.

Of the total sum, N189.21 billion was allocated to INEC, the DSS got N12.21 billion, office of the National Security Adviser got N4.3 billion and the sum of N3.6 billion was voted to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

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