The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmood has stated that the electoral umpire is currently facing difficulties ahead of next year’s general elections.
Mahmood made the admission while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters to defend the budget proposed by the commission in the 2023 Appropriation Bill.
He said that the recent flooding across the nation had destroyed no fewer than 20 offices of the commission.
According to the INEC Chairman, the development had forced the agency to begin to look for new office spaces in new locations in some states.
Mahmood said, “We have office rent and residential rent. So many of our offices were attacked and some actually flooded after the recent floods. We have 20 offices in that situation after the recent floods. In some, we can repair and replace the damaged or lost equipment.
“But for others, we just have to look for a facility to rent. From Jigawa, there was a request for us to look for three offices, following the damage caused by flooding of the offices that we occupied.”
VANTAGE NEWS reports that the commission faced challenges occasioned by the insecurity in the South-East and banditry in the North. This was in addition to the attacks masterminded by hoodlums that hijacked the 2020 EndSARS protests.
Yakubu praised the lawmakers for their role in the passing of the new Electoral Law.
He said, “Some of the progress referred to by the chairman of this committee owe a lot to the new Electoral Act. It has really strengthened our hands. I also like what Honourable Sam Onuigbo said; and the comment made by Honourable Abonta about the involvement of Commissioner Festus Okoye on the technical committee for the last election. We have nominated the same person for the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill. I would like to appreciate you for that.
“You have relieved the commission, by the time you passed this bill, of one of the most difficult jobs assigned to the commission, and which we have not successfully implemented, which is the prosecution of electoral offences. With the establishment of the commission, essentially by the efforts of members – because it is a private bill, not an executive bill, we have also taken another step towards ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
“I pray that the process will be concluded and submitted for assent and be assented to before the lifespan of this Assembly. This will be another solid contribution to our electoral process. If you successfully do so, you would have done what the Uwais recommendation did not achieve; what the Lemu Committee did not achieve; and what the Nnamani Committee did not achieve. So, we look forward to and place on record our appreciation to the National Assembly.”
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