10 days to the February 25 presidential and National Assembly election, cash for the mobilisation of ad-hoc staff for the polls is yet to be made available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Nigerians have been battling with the scarcity of naira notes following the redesign of N200, N500 and N1000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will on Wednesday continue hearing the suits by three state governments challenging the implementation of the currency swap deadline.
The Supreme Court had on February 8 restrained the federal government from enforcing the cash swap deadline of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the suit by the governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states challenging the currency policy.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had penultimate Tuesday met with the governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, where he requested concessions regarding the naira redesign policy with specific reference to the limitations placed on cash withdrawals and the need to make some cash available for some peculiarities that cannot be met with electronic transfer of monies.
Emefiele had while responding, said he would ensure the CBN is not seen as an agent used to thwart the forthcoming general election, assuring that the apex bank would provide INEC needed naira notes as required
But, an indication emerged that the new notes have not been made available to the electoral body ahead of the election when the Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Yahaya Bello, raised the issue.
Bello said the ability of the INEC to conduct the general election may be hampered by the CBN’s cashless policy.
Speaking in Abuja at the North-Central stakeholders’ roundtable on the 2023 general elections, organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), he said the commission needs cash to enable it to coordinate security and logistics, and that the scarcity of the naira may affect this.
He said that if nothing was done to address the cash crunch caused by the policies, INEC in the FCT and across the country would find it difficult to deploy staff and materials for the election as most of the services required cash to obtain.
He, however, said that apart from the cash challenge, the commission was prepared for the elections as it had taken delivery of 80 per cent of materials for the polls and trained staff ahead of the February 25 and March 11 elections.
“Before election day, we are going to deploy the service providers. On the night of Friday (the day before the election) in the FCT, we have more than 12, 000 ad-hoc staff that we are going to give cash to.
“None of them will receive a cheque or accept a transfer. I am talking about FCT (12,000), which will require about N5,000 (each) cash on Friday night. Also, those who are going to transport our men, materials and security to the polling units will need cash to do that.
“Also, you will not take a security person to a polling unit from morning till evening without giving him money to eat and I don’t think you expect him to go to the PoS to withdraw the N1,000 you are going to give him,” he said.
He, however, said that INEC was in discussions with the CBN to see how the problem could be addressed.
He said, “This policy does not affect only INEC FCT in particular. It is going to affect the whole commission nationwide. So, the chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu met with the CBN governor, they also consulted and briefed the National Council of States and the Presidency.
“This is an issue that is being tackled at the highest level because it affects the whole election generally. For now, we are going to wait for the outcome of the negotiations and discussions that are ongoing. So that we will know exactly what is going on.”
Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of the CTA, Faith Nwadishi, said the centre, which is an accredited election observation group, will deploy 2000 observers across the country to cover the 774 local government areas during the 2023 general elections.