Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), gave an explanation of the commission’s financial commitment to conducting elections in Nigeria on Friday.
At an interactive session with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) in Lagos, Yakubu said the expense of logistics, highly secure ballots, and personnel allowances, among other things, were to blame for the enormous cash utilised by INEC during the national elections.
He further stated that the panel intended to spend N305 billion on the general elections in 2023.
He said: “In France, the ballot paper is like an A4 sheet of paper because it is unthinkable that anybody in France will snatch the ballot paper.
“But here in Nigeria, we print ballot papers in currency quality and we entrust them to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The ballot papers will now be moved with all the protocols and security according to the movement of the national currency, just to protect the process.
“This is not going to be done cheaply. So, we pay for lack of trust in the system.”
Yakubu, however, said Nigeria’s elections were not the most expensive, if the entire cost was spread per head of the voting population, projected to be about 95 million.
He noted that the last elections held in Ghana, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau were more expensive if the voters’ population was considered per capita in relation to the cost.
The INEC chief added: “The cost in Nigeria, I think, is nine dollars per head (N4, 500) as against what happens in other countries. Ours is not even the most expensive.
“The cost of elections in Nigeria in 2023 is N305 billion of the national budget of over N17 trillion.
“The cost of elections is just 1.8 percent, not even up to two percent of the national budget.
“If we remove the technology cost, 60 percent of the cost of elections in Nigeria is spent on logistics and personnel allowances.”
He revealed that INEC would engage at least 1.4 million people as ad hoc staff during national and state elections.
“I am sure as we continue to build trust and confidence in the process, the cost of elections will come down considerably,” Yakubu added.