President Buhari’s request for N242.4 billion for the general 2019 elections is almost equivalent to amount anticipated by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) to be used in the upcoming elections.
However, N143 billion out of N164 billion was allocated to the Independent National Electoral commission is 59 percent of proposed total budget by President Buhari. This represents only 19 percent increase of total election expenditure by INEC in 2015 general election.
Breakdown of the N164 billion included: Office of the National Security Adviser (N3.85 billion), Department of State Services (N2.9 billion), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (N1.84 billion), Nigeria Police Force (N11.45 billion) and Nigeria Immigration Service (N530.11 million) with INEC inclusive.
Though disparities in actual election spending in 2015, INEC claimed that between N115 billion and N120 billion was spent in the 2015 general elections.
Despite INEC was not factual and explicit about their proposed budget for the 2019 general elections, in a meeting held in March 2018 at the Nigeria Civil Society situation room, INEC disclosed that there is high possibility that election cost for 2019 general elections will double this year.
If FG request is granted by the senate, election cost will spike by 102 percent this year as against 2015 general elections.
Justification for this spike in election cost was not explicit enough in the announcement made by the federal government. Most especially, registration of voters has not ended therefore we cannot conclude on how much will be spent per voter.
BusinessDay will ascribe this spike to the lower purchasing power of the Naira against the US dollars. Since it is claimed that most materials needed for 2019 general elections are imported, therefore due to devaluation o the currency between 2015 to 2018, importations of these goods will be expensive.
According to Adedayo Bakare, Macroeconomic Strategist at Afrinvest Securities, he said there is really no justifiable reason for the increase in election spending by the government but the macro-economic situation attributable to the increase in exchange rate will feature increased spending by government in purchasing for election materials as some of this equipment for election are been sourced abroad.
Adebayo also added that the number of personnel budgeted by the federal government for the election and inflation rate are another reason that could be factored for the increase of federal government allocation.
According Rafiq Raji, chief economist at Macroafricaintel explained that ‘‘the implication of government allocation and spending on election is insignificant to spur inflation, however, on a larger perspective, spending by political parties and agents on campaigns most especially carried out in the informal environment translates into inflation behaviour, hence could spur inflation’’.
Report by National institute for legislative Studies explains Nigeria’s election to be amongst the world’s most expensive. Compared to other African countries, Nigeria election cost is highest despite lower number of registered voters companies to other countries.