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.
The commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, according to the INEC 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.
It recalled that the commission had earlier sent a proposal of N18 billion to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and defended it before the Executive, who referred it to the National Assembly for approval.
It quoted Yakubu during the budget defense, stating that N10.6 billion out of the sum will enable the commission to pay its members of staff the 40 per cent increase in peculiarity allowance approved by the Federal Government in April in 2023.
Yakubu added that the over N3 billion of the budget was meant to pay INEC staff members the award of N35,000 approved for each public servant across the country for six months by the Federal Government, as well as the new duty tour allowance.
He said the commission would spend N1.6 billion on the conduct of 11 outstanding bye-elections, comprising five federal constituencies, four state constituencies and two senatorial districts.
According to 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 the commission’s staff who have clamoured for improved welfare in the face of the economic hardship being experienced due to the removal of the fuel subsidy and consequent increase in the prices of fuel.
It recalled that Yakubu at a consultative meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja, appealed to the RECs to inform staff in their respective states of measures being put in place by the commission to address the economic challenges facing them.
Yakubu explained that the six agencies including INEC have not received funds to offset payment of the 40 per cent peculiar allowance as approved.
He noted that the commission was not unmindful of the economic hardship being experienced by the staff.
Yakubu said that the commission was not resting on its oars in its bid to get the necessary funds to pay the allowances as soon as possible. (NAN)