By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Nigeria spent a whopping N108.8 billion to conduct the 2015 general elections, which produced President Muhammadu Buhari, 31 governors, 109 senators and 360 House of Representatives members, as well as thousands of state assembly members.
The breakdown of the amount per the 68, 833, 476 registered voters translates to N1,749.38 per Nigerian voter or $8.33 at the exchange rate of N210 per Dollar at that time.
The amount per Nigerian voter compares favourably to the 2011 general election budget with a provision of $9 per voter.
This information is contained in the Report of the 2015 General Elections released to Vanguard by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Abuja, yesterday.
The report, which was released at a Media Workshop on the theme: Media and Election Reportage: An Assessment of Professionalism and Ethical Issues, stated that the commission also got N5.2 billion support from development partners in support of the election.
In spite of that, the commission said that the total amount spent on the election was still being processed as at the time the report was compiled, an indication the amount spent for the polls could be higher at the end of the day.
The report said that the amount provided by the development partners was spent largely on workshops, seminars, conferences, enlightenment programmes and engagement of consultants and technical aides for the INEC Chairman.
But the commission also explained that the amount appropriated for the 2015 polls spanned a period of two years, before the conduct of the elections.
“Over the period, funds were provided for pre-election activities such as voter registration and issuance of Permanent Voter cards. Other electoral procurements made prior to the conduct of the elections included: ballot papers, result sheets, voting cubicles and ballot boxes.
“Additionally, cost of logistic requirements for Election Day activities and support for election litigations, as well as the recruitment and training of election officials, were provided for in the budgets of 2014-2015.”
Among the major items on which INEC expended the cash were the sum of N15.6 billion on Presidential, Governorship elections runoffs, N14.1 billion on honorarium for ad-hoc staff, N10.5 billion for electoral hazards allowance, N 8 billion for ballot papers, N6 billion on ad-hoc staff training and N5 billion for ballot boxes.
Meanwhile, at the media workshop attended, the Guest lecturer, Prof Adigun Agbaje, of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Ibadan made a case for journalists and media houses to be more transparent and objective in political reportage so as to advance the course of the nation.
Agbaje, who noted with deep concerns the overt bias and breach of the code of professional conduct during the last general elections by media houses and journalists, pointed out that the nation would not make the required progress with such level of reportage.
The don said, “No doubt, details of professional and ethical requirements for attaining election reportage supportive of substantial democracy and credible elections will remain contentious in the future, but we should see such contentions as opportunity to fashion out for Nigeria a professional and ethical framework that suits the requirement of its media industry, including new media, in order for it to facilitate the required election and other form of reportage conducive to the blossoming of democracy.
“Within the framework, must be located a lesson learned since the 1980s, that increased certification in the form of higher education for media professionals has not necessarily transformed into better professional and ethical behaviour, and that what is therefore required is a mix of hands-on training and exposure with the knowledge gained in classroom situations.
“Overall, outcome would depend on sustaining and deepening current stage of media diversity, strengthening the application of media technologies in manners that devolves power and awareness to the grassroots and promotes democratic engagement of, and with, the people. A major component would also be to strengthen the institutions, processes and values toxic to the further survival and growth of the culture of impunity.”