NATIONAL Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, said what the commission needed to compile a credible Voters Register was N84 billion and not N74 billion as he earlier said.
The amount, however, did not cover an additional N10 billion that the commission was seeking as hazard allowance for its staff who would conduct the election, which brought the total amount required by INEC to N84billion.
Addressing members of the Senate Committee on INEC at the National Assembly, Professor Jega, who was accompanied by all the national commissioners, warned that if the fund required for the compilation of the voters’ register was not made available by the second week of August, the task of compiling a new voter register would be very difficult.
The INEC chairman said the N74 billion would be used for the purchase of 120 Direct Capture Machines, voter education, allowances for staff and training of staff on the use of the machines.
He explained: “With regards to direct capture machine, we want the best machine which is laptop based and not hand held; which has a very good resolution camera and which has very good standard finger printing accessory and an extra power pack, in case of the battery running down. We also factored in some generating capabilities just in case everything failed and in our own country, you cannot guarantee anything. We have to take a lot of measures to see how we can improve on the situation.
Direct capturing machines
“Now if you take all these into consideration, the cost of the direct capturing machine alone – the unit cost from what we have got so far, and that is not using vendors, the unit cost is about $2000. If you calculate $2000 by 120,000 units of machine at $152 per unit, you will get about $240 million.
That alone gives you N36.8 billion just for the equipment alone. If you are going to go through the vendor which is an option we are trying to avoid, then you have to factor at least 30 percent profit margin, so that in itself raises the cost of the equipment to N55 billion.
“Then if you take the cost of the training, the cost of voter education which we have done, the logistical requirement in terms of transportation and also the allowances that had to be paid to the personnel whether they are for training purpose or for actual exercise, it comes to a lot of money. So from our own calculation, clearly we will need N74 billion. We realize that there was even an error in the calculation.
We have corrected it and made it available to the executive where we first made that.
“So we took all these things into consideration and, as I said, for purposes of planning, you have to use the highest figure. We would not say give us N55 billion and we run into hitches with the preparation with the direct suppliers.
“The best thing is to go direct to the manufacturers and that is the option we are pursuing and we are doing a lot of discussion on that. But we have to have the money just in case we cannot get the manufacturers we have to go with vendors. That is really how the cost element is. If N74 billion is allocated and in the end we can only spend N55 billion, it is saving for the government.”
Jega said the machines bought by Professor Maurice Iwu-led commission were substandard, adding that some of them had been given out to other organizations like the Nigerian Customs, Immigration and even staff of the commission as gift.
In a news item on the commission’s daily news bulletin, INEC said it would need an additional N10 billion as hazard allowance for its staff.
The bulletin stated: “Apart from the N74 billion required by the Commission to compile a fresh voters’ register and to provide for training and logistics, INEC will require another N10 billion to cover hazard and sundry allowances.”
It added that in the past, allowances for staff of the commission which are obligatory were glossed over by the commission.