INEC’s Bogus Budget and Nigeria’s Socioeconomic Misfortune

Image

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Torrent of criticism/knocks from good spirited Nigerians has trailed the bogus budget proposition of N305 billion for the 2023 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently submitted to the National Assembly.

It is equally not surprising to see some supporters of the government argue that in a democracy, government agencies and commissions such as INEC are at liberty to take or discard advice and public opinion as public opinion does not always provide clear-cut policy guidance.

It is also not impossible to see in the coming days, Nigerians who will advocate that even in situations where public opinion is clearly in favour of a certain course of government action, the authorities may decide otherwise-particularly when they realize how uninformed, superficial, and changeable most opinions really are, the government may reject people’s opinion as a result of its own convictions, the recommendations of the public service, the pressure of advocacy groups and lobbyists, or the rigidity of the ruling party.

But in spite of these slanted and asymmetrical arguments, looking at INEC’s action from all ramifications, one thing seems to stand out; the electoral umpire, against all known logic, came up with such a bogus demand without minding that the federal government’s debt servicing to revenue ratio recently jumped from 54.66 per cent to 72 per cent, and at a time when the nation is going through a harsh economic situation in the country, a state of depression (or is it a recession) that has been designed by yet to be established architects, is in my view not only shocking but a sign that our leaders are not ready to serve the masses, serve the economy or feel the pains poor Nigerians stoically endures.

Going by media reports, the Senate Committee on Appropriations had invited INEC to present the budget so as to include it in the 2022 budget billed for passage by both chambers of the National Assembly.

During the presentation, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, among other remarks explained that the N305 billion was different from the N40 billion yearly budget of the electoral body. He noted that while N100 billion had been released to the commission out of the total projected expenditure, it would not be enough for adequate preparation towards 2023.

Before diving into particulars that render the present development a reality to worry about, it is important to underline the fact that the 2023 general elections are not only important to the nation Nigeria but key to determining the future of the nation’s existential journey particularly as no nation can rise/develop above the quality of its leadership. It is not only our patriotic duty to give the project the objective attention that it deserves; it is our moral duty at the most fundamental level.

However, it is said that in strategy formulation, timing is key.

Likewise, more than anything else, for INEC to present such bogus and thoughtless budget for election in a nation where poverty daily drive citizens into the ranks of the beggars, lends credence to the age-long belief by Nigerians and development professionals that there is something deeply troubling about public leadership in Nigeria; their relationship with reason, their disdain for fact and lack of curiosity about any new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that the nation is supposed to wrestle with.

Cast a curious look at this development, one cannot but raise certain questions.

Is the election that expensive? If yes, and requires/demands such a volume of money, it will again necessitate the question as to how come some African countries that are more impoverished than Nigeria able to organize electoral exercises in their country.

Is the 2023 election the first general election to be held in the country? Is INEC saying that the nation did not make gains in the time past that they can build on? What really shot the present budget up? Is it logistics, security or human resources considerations? If logistics, what about the items such as ballot boxes etc bought/used for the previous elections? Can’t INEC find ways of deploying previously bought items/equipment to use?

There is a lot that is wrong with our country. But one thing that bothers me in addition to the above is that this development is not an isolated case.

Just recently, Nigeria’s National Population Commission, (NPC), going by media reports, in a similar style said it requires about N400 billion to organize the national census scheduled for May 2022, just months to the onset of the 2023 general elections.

The headcount and general elections the reports noted were given as the reason for the failure of the National Assembly to pass the next year’s annual budget, in keeping with the resolve of the federal legislators to maintain a January-December budget cycle. The cost of prosecuting the census represents an 83.38 per cent jump from the N217 billion proposed for the exercise about four years ago, in what is blamed on a combination of inflation, Naira devaluation, and the cost of engaging over 1.5 million personnel.

Yes, the truth, the bitter truth is that the census is known to provide the most important population statistics required for planning and development in any country. But the validity of this claim notwithstanding, it will again elicit the posers as to; how many are we in Nigeria to require such a budget? What is the cost implication for conducting headcount per citizen? If this is confusing, why can’t NPC as a body engage the best minds to help get the answers and deploy the resources we need to move into the future?

In many ways, the present administration may have a sincere desire to move the nation forward, but there are two major militating factors. First, there is no clear definition of our problem as a nation, the goals to be achieved, or the means chose to address the problems and to achieve the goals. Secondly, the system has virtually no consideration for connecting the poor with good means of livelihood-food, jobs and security. This is the only possible explanation for this situation.

Finally, as the debate rages, one point INEC, politicians and of course Nigerians must not fail to remember is that ‘a precondition for an honest government is that candidates must not need large sums to get elected, or it must trigger off the circle of corruption. Having spent a lot of money to get elected, winners must recover their costs and possibly accumulate funds for the next election as the system is self-perpetuating.’

Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via [email protected]/08032725374.

Share
Related Stories
Image
05-February-2024

A Cultural Journalist’s 15 years of Research on Ijaw Culture and Worship

By Jerome-Mario Utomi No man, according to Aristotle, chooses anything but what he can do himself. And thus, choice is limited to the realm of things humanly possible. Aristotle further stated that there is no choice among impossibilities. Choice, by its very nature, is free. A necessitated choice is not a choice at all but a great sacrifice, he concluded. The above lines from great Aristotle amply capture the ‘fate’ or better still the position of Asiayei Enaibo, Bobogbene community, a Warri, Delta state-based journalist who made a necessitated choice/sacrifice by opting out of conventional journalism to explore formation that

Image
07-February-2024

Saving Ubeji Community in Delta State From Devastating Impacts of Gas Flaring

By Jerome-Mario Utomi If President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led federal government is desirous of ending gas flaring in the country, then, the administration should consider as urgent, taking both practical and pragmatic steps to save the people of Ubeji Community, a sleepy satellite community located around the Warri petrochemical company in Warri South local government area of Delta State, from the choking soot which reportedly emanates from the towering chimney that pierces the skyline of the community, a facility reportedly owned by a famous gas company in the country. Again, if the Governor of Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwori, recognises that the

Image
13-February-2024

Aleph Presents Unique Strategies to Grow Business This Ramadan

As Muslims around the world get ready to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, Aleph (formerly known as Ad Dynamo by Aleph) presents insights for businesses on how best to leverage Meta platforms for business growth. Did you know that… Ramadan’s focus on community and connection also enables brands to connect in a unique way with the audience? The research also shows that 91% of social media users in Nigeria like to see content that promotes community and togetherness on Facebook and Instagram. Advertising that respects and highlights Ramadan’s traditions, businesses can enter the conversation in a new and positive

More Stories
Image
22-January-2021

DisCos Get N14.4bn Loan for 263,860 Prepaid Meters

By Adedapo Adesanya The federal government said it has distributed the sum of N14.35 billion to electricity distribution firms for the procurement of prepaid meters under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). The money was disbursed to the energy companies through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as loan for the purchase of 263,860 meters as part of the efforts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to increase metering capacity. According to a statement, the facility “is a loan that must be repaid by the DisCos on the basis of the previously agreed amortisation schedule. The repayment is to

Image
28-September-2021

Makinde Woos Tourism Investors to Oyo

By Modupe Gbadeyanka Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has urged tourism investors to consider coming to the state as it has different sites that could be explored for their benefits and the state. Mr Makinde made this appeal on Monday while commemorating World Tourism Day at the popular 246 steps Ado-Awaye Hills, Iseyin Local Government, Iseyin. He said the state government under his watch was looking to turn tourism into another oil boom to improve the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the Pacesetter State, calling on the different stakeholders to support this drive. The Governor, who was represented at

Image
06-February-2020

NASD OTC Exchange Closes Flat as Activity Level Wanes

By Adedapo Adesanya Trading activities on the floor of the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange closed flat on Thursday, February 5, with the key market indicators remaining at the previous levels. As a result of this, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) stayed 697.86 points, while the market capitalisation remained unchanged at N501.73 billion at the close of business today. At the two previous sessions, the volume of shares exchanged by market participants increased, but at Thursday’s session, the trading volume went down by 97 percent or 3,340,681 units to 110,980 units from 3,451,661 units recorded at the midweek trading

Image
17-March-2017

Wema Bank Royal Kiddies Account Holders to Attend Movie Premiere

By Dipo Olowookere Wema Bank Plc has partnered with Silverbird Film Distribution for the premiere of Smurfs: The Lost Village, the American 3D computer-animated adventure-comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation, which is set for an April 7, 2017 release. The film is based on The Smurfs comic book series created by the Belgian comics artist Peyo. The partnership will see Wema Bank’s Royal Kiddies account holders be part of the first people in the world to watch the highly anticipated film. The premiere will hold at the Silverbird Galleria in Lagos on Saturday, March 18, 2017 ahead of the

Image
11-January-2018

FG Moves to End Herdsmen/Farmers Conflict

By Dipo Olowookere Steps are already being taken by the Federal Government to put an end to the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country. At the end of a security meeting in Benue State recently, which was attended by Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General, Department of State Security and the Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Minister of Interior, Mr Abdulrahman Dambazau, said the move followed the spate of attacks nationwide between both parties. During the meeting with the Governors of Benue, Niger, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba and Nasarawa states, as well as the Minister of

Image
27-November-2022

CPPM Asks Buhari to Discipline HoS for Failure to Appoint Accountant General

By Adedapo Adesanya A civil society organisation, the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), has knocked the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs Folasade Esan, for allegedly undermining a presidential directive to commence the process of appointing a substantive Accountant General of the Federation. The group, in a statement made available to Business Post on Sunday, described the move as “irresponsible, provocative, reckless, condemnable, unacceptable and a threat to national security.” The statement signed by Mr Nelson Ekujumi, its Executive Chairman, said, “We are aware that sequel to the presidential directive with regards to the appointment

Image
23-March-2018

AfCFTA Will Cause Massive Job Loss in Nigeria—MAN

By Dipo Olowookere The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has explained that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which 44 countries have subscribed into, will lead to a massive job loss in Nigeria. Two Africa’s biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, have refused to sign the trade deals. At a press conference on Wednesday, President of MAN, Mr Frank Jacobs, commended the Federal Government for refusing to sign the agreement establishing AfCFTA. According to him, signing the documents will lead to gross unemployment in the country as most manufacturing companies in the country will be made to die a

Image
23-March-2023

NCDMB Trains Indigenous Companies on Quality Management Systems

By Adedapo Adesanya The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has embarked on the training of indigenous companies on Quality Management Systems (QMS). This is part of efforts by the board to build, improve and increase the capacity of Nigerians in the oil and gas sector. The QMS training, which is ongoing in Port Harcourt, the capital of oil-rich Rivers State, is the first series of the second phase of the training. QMS is a structured system that documents the processes, methods, and responsibilities for accomplishing quality policies and objectives. In this context, it will assist the local organisations

Ad
Ad
Recent Stories
Image
05-March-2024

Emotions Pour as Dignitaries Eulogise Late Herbert Wigwe

By Adedapo Adesanya  It was an emotional rollercoaster at the tribute event held on Monday night to celebrate the late group chief executive of Access Holdings Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe. Dignitaries from government, corporate organisations, and royalty paid tribute to the late titan who died alongside his wife, son, and a former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, Mr Abimbola Ogunbajo, on February 9 in the United States. The event which was monitored by Business Post was divided into six segments – Young Hebert, the banker, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the builder and the ambassador. These personalities

Image
05-March-2024

Nigeria’s Economic Outlook is Challenging—IMF Declares

By Aduragbemi Omiyale The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has alerted that tough times await Nigerians, though it retained its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for 2024 at 3.2 per cent. In a statement on the conclusion of the IMF Staff 2024 Article IV Mission to Nigeria, the global lender said the administration of President Bola Tinubu “inherited a difficult economic situation marked by low growth, low revenue collection, accelerating inflation, and external imbalances built up over years.” However, it praised the government’s approval of an effective and well-targeted social protection system, including the release of grains, seeds, and fertilizers,

Image
05-March-2024

Banks Involved in 70% of Economic Crimes in Nigeria—EFCC

By Aduragbemi Omiyale Nearly 70 per cent of financial crimes in Nigeria have the involvement of banks, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has claimed. “Broadly speaking, banking fraud in Nigeria is both inside and outside related. “The inside related fraud comprises outright selling of customers’ deposits, authorising loan facilities, forgery and several other kinds of unhealthy and criminal practices,” the chairman of EFCC, Mr Ola Olukoyede, said while speaking at the Annual Retreat and General Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria held in Abuja. The EFCC boss, represented by the agency’s Director

Image
05-March-2024

Nigerian Air Force Airstrikes Hit Two Illegal Refineries in Rivers

By Adedapo Adesanya The Nigerian Air Force component of Operation Delta Safe, through airstrikes destroyed two illegal oil refining sites in Krakama and Temakiri, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, in continuation of efforts to stamp out the activities of crude oil thieves and oil pipeline vandals in the country. This was disclosed by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Mr Edward Gabkwet, an Air Vice Marshal, saying the illegal oil refining sites were observed actively operating with Cotonou boats sighted nearby with the probable intent to illegally siphon crude oil from the sites. Mr

Image
05-March-2024

NGX Remains Catalyst for Economic Growth—Chiemeka

By Aduragbemi Omiyale The acting chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, Mr Jude Chiemeka, has described the bourse as a catalyst for economic growth and development. He said this at the listing of 7.5 billion ordinary shares of Transcorp Power Plc at N240 per unit at the exchange on Monday. The energy firm raised the market capitalisation of the trading platform by N1.8 trillion yesterday. According to him, the inclusion of Transcorp Power into the NGX, the first listing of the year, underscored the pivotal role the bourse plays in shaping Nigeria’s economic landscape. He added that NGX

Image
05-March-2024

Dangote Renames Lagos Refinery Road After Herbert Wigwe

By Modupe Gbadeyanka The road to the Dangote Refinery in the Lekki area of Lagos State has been renamed after the late group chief executive of Access Holdings Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe. This development was announced on Monday night by the owner of the oil facility, Mr Aliko Dangote, during the Celebrating Herbert Wigwe’s Professional Legacy, who said this gesture was to immortalise his friend. The Nigerian billionaire businessman and the richest black man on earth, in an emotional tribute to the late banker, who died in a helicopter crash in the United States on February 9, 2024, along with

Image
05-March-2024

Investors of Unlisted Securities Lose N43bn

By Adedapo Adesanya It was a bad day for investors of unlisted securities in Nigeria as the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange ended the first trading session of the week on a negative note with a 3.11 per cent loss triggered by four stocks on the platform. The culprits were UBN Property Plc, Aradel Holdings Plc, Central Securities Clearing System Plc, and Resourcery Plc. They were under selling pressure during the trading session. This resultantly trimmed N43 billion from the market capitalisation of the bourse to N1.449 trillion from N1.542 trillion, as the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) dropped 35.53

Image
05-March-2024

Naira Value Improves at Official Market, Deflates at Parallel Market

By Adedapo Adesanya The Naira appreciated further against the greenback in the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) segment of the FX market on Monday, March 5 by N14.06 or 0.9 per cent to trade at N1,534.19/$1 compared with last Friday’s value of N1,548.25/$1. The improvement in the value of the domestic currency happened as the forex market attempts to find stability after months of turbulence due to a shortfall in the supply of Dollars into the system. Yesterday, the value of forex trades depreciated by 39.7 per cent or $117.37 million to $178.63 million from the $296.00 million recorded

Image
05-March-2024

Oil Market Falls Despite OPEC+ Cut Extension

By Adedapo Adesanya  The oil market fell slightly on Monday, as demand headwinds outweighed a widely expected extension of voluntary output cuts through the middle of the year by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+). Brent futures dropped 81 cents to quote at $82.74 a barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) weakened by $1.22 to trade at $78.75 a barrel. The OPEC+ producers agreed over the weekend to extend their voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second quarter to cushion the market amid global economic concerns and

Image
05-March-2024

Investors Mop up Nigerian Stocks on Economic Optimism

By Dipo Olowookere The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited witnessed a 0.10 per cent growth on Monday amid optimism that the trip of President Bola Tinubu to Qatar over the weekend will yield positive results. At the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum in Doha, Mr Tinubu assured Qatari investors that they would not face any bottleneck while attempting to repatriate their funds. This assurance was welcomed by stock investors, who saw light at the end of the tunnel for the nation’s economy, which is currently suffering because of the shortage in the supply of foreign exchange (FX) into the market. Since