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One failed recall, N100m expenditure

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One failed recall, N100m expenditure

Last year, precisely in June, the constituents of Kogi West Senatorial District reportedly tendered a recall petition purportedly signed by over 188,000 persons to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The petition, which intended to unseat the senator representing the said constituency, Dino Melaye, was apparently informed by the ensued lack of confidence of the petitioners over the lawmaker. According to them, the legislator was due to be recalled from the Red Chamber of the National Assembly (NASS), hence urged the INEC to expedite action towards ensuring that their quest saw the light of the day. Consequently, on Monday, July 3, 2017, the commission led by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu released a timetable for the recall process.

But the embattled lawmaker, Melaye, through his solicitor, Mr. Mike Ozekhome – filed a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja, asking the judicial custodian to halt the process, alleging some irregularities. The High Court, unfortunately, threw out the prayer of the defendant, describing it as baseless

. The latter, thereafter, headed for the Supreme Court to appeal the judgement. Early this year, the apex court equally overruled the lawful protest, thereby ordered the INEC to continue with the recall process. On Saturday, April 28, 2018, the day scheduled by the electoral umpire for the verification exercise among the constituents of the Kogi West in order to wrap up the recall procedure, something intriguing transpired.

To the onlookers’ utmost surprise, not up to one-quarter of the petition’s signatories turned up for the exercise, thus resulting in the failure of the proposed recall.

After the whole brouhaha, the country’s leading opposition platform – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – alleged that the INEC expended about N100 billion on the failed recall process against Melaye.

The bombshell threw the entire polity into a state of disarray. While concerned Nigerians were making frantic effort to fathom how the PDP came about the unspeakable figure, on Friday, May 4, 2018, the INEC Chairman refuted the allegation, thus further disclosed that a little above N100 million was rather spent on the exercise.

In a bid to throw more light, Yakubu stated that a recall process was like a fresh election or normal electoral process, hence attracts equal financial burden. According to him, since a similar procedure is required in either of the aforementioned processes, which involve such activities as printing of materials, deployment of manpower to all the available booths or polling units in the affected constituency and engagement of adequate security personnel, same amount of fund is needed in carrying out any of them.

Yakubu’s explanation got me more confused, to assert the least. It suffices to say that I’m yet to ascertain what informed such whopping expenditure. Going by his analysis, it implies that about, or a minimum of, N100 million is invariably spent each time a senatorial election is being conducted in Kogi West. With the help of Statistics, I would like us to painstakingly re-examine the claim.

Nigeria comprises 109 senatorial districts. Kogi West consists of 552 polling units in seven LGAs. Most senatorial zones in the country have more than seven LGAs, hence liable to have more number of booths than that of Kogi West.

Since the zones that have more number of booths are far more than those that have lower booths, we can assume that all the zones comprise equal number of polling units to enable us carry out the required mathematics with ease. In view of the above logic, if N100 million is to be expended on Kogi West during any election, then since we have 109 districts nationwide, about N10.9 billion is expected to be spent on just senatorial elections.

Or, let’s say at least N10.9 billion would be required for all the polls involving the NASS since elections of both chambers are usually conducted on the same day, even though additional printed materials would be required for both exercise thereby incurring more funds.

Considering the above survey, it is obvious that if the claim of the INEC’s chairman holds water, Nigeria as a country is supposed to budget, or perhaps has been budgeting, hundreds of billions of naira towards any electioneering era with a view to conducting free, fair and credible general elections, which is ostensibly far-fetched.

If this conclusion is anything to go by, then one wouldn’t hesitate to say unequivocally that Yakubu still owes us some pertinent further interpretations concerning how the commission arrived at such bogus expenditure.

As I enjoin the INEC to give us the painstaking statistics of the logistics that warranted that fathomless expenditure, I equally extend an invitation to the PDP in order to remind them that a whistle blower is expected to tender some convincing documents to back up his or her allegation. This very paragraph is the highlights of this critique in its entirety.

 

•Nwaozor, the Executive Director, Docfred Resource Hub, writes frednwaozor@gmail.com

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