Nigeria spent the sum of N122.9bn to conduct the 2011 general elections.

This was disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja, Wednesday, by the Chief Press Secretary to the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Kayode Idowu.

Idowu said the amount showed that N9bn was saved from N131.4bn initially budgeted for the exercise.

The amount spent, he added, included N66.3bn on recurrent expenditure and N56.6bn also on capital expenditure.

He said: “Contrary to lingering speculations, the actual cost of the 2011 elections, including all costs involved in the voter registration exercise, is N66.3 billion for recurrent expenditure and N56.6 billion for capital expenditure – making a total of N122.9 billion or, if you like, $800.6 million at an exchange rate of N153.5 to $1 which prevailed at the time.

“This represented a saving of N9 billion on a total of N131.4 billion that was appropriated.”

He added that the commission appreciated and fully shared Nigerians’ concern over the huge financial costs of elections in Nigeria.

Already, he said the thrust of INEC’s strategic planning was to seek ways of remarkably cutting back on expenditure while safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process.

“INEC has, thus, been looking at cost-saving international best practices that can be adapted to Nigerian peculiarities without exposing the system to abuse,” he added.

He also said it would be wrong to say the commission under Prof. Attahiru Jega has been on a needless spending binge.

He added that every expenditure by the present INEC has been necessitated and strictly undertaken as an investment – with an eye on saving the country further costs in the future.

On the recent Federal Executive Council approval of N2.1 billion budget for INEC to produce 33.5 million Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs  that would be issued to register voters, Idowu said the approved fund was for the second batch of PVCs.

The PVCs, he said, would be used by the 73.5million eligible voters registered by the Commission during the exercise conducted between January-February 2011.

It will be recalled that before the last FEC approval, the government had in 2012 approved N2.6 billion for production of the first batch of 40 million cards, while the latest approval was for the second phase of the same project.

On whether there was any need for the new PVC project, he said the history of Nigeria’s electoral system proved that it was important.

According to him, “The PVCs will replace the cold-laminated Temporary Voter Cards that were issued during the voter registration exercise in 2011.

“Experience has shown that these temporary cards are not only fragile, but also susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous persons, who were in the past reported to have illicitly massed up the cards and put them in the hands of cronies to use in manipulating elections.

“Procedures put in place by INEC since the 2011 General Election have considerably lessened the susceptibility of these cards to such abuse.”

He promised that the new PVCs that the commission would soon issue to registered voters are far much more fraud-proof.

Idowu said during elections, the PVC would be swiped with a card reader at the polling unit to ensure 100 per cent authentication and verification of the voter before the voter is allowed to vote.

He said with this, only a legitimate holder can present the card at a polling unit to cast his/her vote, while an illegitimate holder can be detected and prevented from using the card.

On cost, Idowu said each PVC was being produced at a modest cost of about N65 per card and that each would have an average life span of ten years.

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