BY OKEY NDIRIBE
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has said the commission is barred by law from funding registered political parties.
Jega stated this yesterday in Abuja, shortly after declaring open a three-day Train the Trainers workshop which focused on the role and responsibilities of political party agents on Election Day which was organised by INEC, in collaboration with the Democratic Governance for Development Project (DGD ) of the UNDP.
Jega further stated that “The issue of funding political parties is a constitutional matter. As I speak with you, the constitution of Nigeria does not permit INEC to fund political parties. But in many other countries, their laws allow for the funding of political parties”.
He further said that until the National Assembly amends the Nigerian constitution to allow for funding of political parties, INEC can’t do anything about financing them, adding that the commission would continue to abide by the provisions of the constitution.
According to him, “… Until our laws are changed, there is nothing we can do about funding political parties. Maybe our legislators would look into that possibility. We would abide by whatever is in the law.”
Speaking further on the essence of the train the trainers workshop, Jega said “Party agents have a great responsibility to play for credible election to hold and for the party agents to be able to discharge this responsibility, they need to be properly and adequately trained”.
He said that as Nigeria’s electoral body, the commission believes its contribution would be to train the master trainers who will go back and train very credible agents that will be knowledgeable about the electoral process and would be able to play a positive role for the parties they represent.
Responding to a question on why the Commission extended the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) only in Abuja, the INEC boss said the extension was to accommodate those who were not able to collect their voters cards due to the heavy rainfall of last Friday.
Said he: ” You know there was a heavy rainfall in Abuja on Friday and to a large extent, it affected the deployment of the permanent voters cards in Abuja. So it affected the turnout of voters”.
He added that as of Sunday afternoon, the commission had recorded only about 13 percent turn-out of registered voters who had collected their permanent voters cards, adding this made the commission to give them another opportunity through the extension.
He further stated that the extension would be avoided in future due to its cost implication, adding that even after the distribution period had elapsed, it did not mean the commission had ended distribution of cards.
He said the remaining cards which could not be picked by their owners, would still be sent back to INEC’s local council offices across the country for onward collection by voters until January 2015.
Said he: “So even if you don’t collect your cards during this period, you can always go to the INEC local government office of your area and collect it”.
Meanwhile, the commission will from tomorrow, hold a Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) in all of the twelve states where the PVCs are being distributed.
The states involved in the second phase of the programme are Yobe, Bauchi (North East), Jigawa, Sokoto (North West), FCT, Kwara (North Central), Anambra, Ebonyi (South East), Ondo, Oyo (South West) and Delta, Cross River (South South).
With the rescheduling of Phase 2 of the programme, new dates will be announced later for Phase 3 involving Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Edo and Rivers states.