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Sunday, November 26, 2023

INEC Dismisses Report On N500bn Direct Primaries Budget

The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said the commission has not presented any estimate on the cost of conducting direct primaries.

He disclosed this while briefing journalists after a closed-door meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations on Thursday.

He said: “INEC did not come up with any cost for the conduct of primaries per political parties by the direct method. 

“We have had very good discussions with the Committee on Appropriation of the National Assembly under the resolution of the House and what we discussed you will not hear from me. Maybe, the chairman of the committee will tell you.”

Asked about the cost of the 2023 elections as well as the direct and indirect primaries, he said it would be known once the budget is finalised.

Buhari yet to decide on bill 

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on the Electoral Act Amendment bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly, the Presidency said yesterday.

A national daily (not this paper) had reported that Buhari returned the bill to the National Assembly in a letter addressed to the two presiding officers. 

There has been a cold war between federal lawmakers and governors over the inclusion of direct primaries in the bill, with the latter mounting pressure on the president not to sign it. 

The harmonised version of the bill was passed by the National Assembly last month and transmitted to the president for his assent.  

But Buhari’s aides on National Assembly matters said they were not aware of any communication to the parliament to that effect.

Daily Trust reports that any official communication from the president to both chambers of the National Assembly passed through the offices of his parliamentary advisers. 

When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Babajide Omoworare, in a phone interview with Daily Trust described the report as “speculation”.

“If there’s communication from the president to the National Assembly, I should know. Let’s just still take it (the rejection) as speculation. 

‘If there’s a communication to the effect that the president has rejected the electoral bill, I’m not aware and I should be aware, and we are still waiting for the 30 days within which the president should communicate to the National Assembly if he wants to.”

Corroborating Omoworare’s statement, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly matters (House of Representatives), Ibrahim El-Yakub, said the president will not return the bill to parliament through the backdoor.

“What I know is that it will not be returned through the back door. If the president assented to a bill, it will be known,” he said.

The National Assembly also, yesterday, said it is awaiting the communication of the president on the Electoral Act Amendment bill.

Senate spokesman Senator Ajibola Basiru said he was not aware of any communication by the president rejecting the electoral bill.

Similarly, the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), dismissed the insinuations that the president had returned the bill to the parliament.

He added that the House has not received any communication from the president since the bill was transmitted to him

Reacting, a coalition of CSOs said the news of President Buhari’s rejection of the bill is a hatchet job.

They said this in a joint statement by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative; Jude Feranmi, Convener, Raising New Voices Initiative; and Kenneth Eze, Executive Director, Speak Out Africa Initiative.

They said the hatchet job carried out by some crooked persons to misinform Nigerians and mislead the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is shameless and unfortunate.

Daily Trust reports.


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