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Naira crisis: INEC bespeaks cash from CBN

3 min read

The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has presented its cash requirement for prosecuting the forthcoming elections to the Central Bank of Nigeria, as requested by the apex bank. It expressed hope that its demand would be met with a positive response.

The Chief Press secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, told our correspondent in an interview on Friday that even though the commission does most of its payments through online transfers, some specific services had to be paid for in cash.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had recently visited the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, to seek the apex bank’s support toward a hitch-free election, especially with the new naira policy that had led to the scarcity of the new notes and placed restrictions on cash withdrawal.

Emefiele had promised that the naira redesign would not affect the election, as it would provide the required cash and other support needed for the smooth conduct of the poll.

However, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory, Yahaya Bello, on Tuesday raised the alarm that the naira crisis might affect the conduct of the elections.

Meanwhile, Oyekanmi said in the interview, “The need to make these special arrangements informed the meeting between the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, and the governor of the central bank on February 7, 2023.

“We have made a detailed submission on our entire cash requirement on a state-by-state basis as the CBN requested. Our submission is under consideration and we have  the assurances of a positive response soon. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm. We believe that the CBN will meet us at our point of need.

“Normally, the Independent National Electoral Commission makes payments for various services through electronic transfers. The bulk of the payments the commission makes for services rendered by vendors or service providers is carried out through transfers. Luckily, all the commission’s accounts are with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“However, there are some specific services, which form a small percentage of the total, that must be paid for in cash due to certain circumstances. For instance, there are service providers in remote, rural areas where banking services are not readily available.”

He listed the service providers to include motorcycle, boat, or canoe operators and those that supply water to its Registration Area Centres, where men and materials are deployed to the polling units on election days.

He added, “If you do not pay such providers in cash, they may not be in the position to provide the critical services that we need, so we must make the required provision. We also pay our presiding officers their training allowances in cash, just as we make some part payments to vehicle owners for the transportation of our men and materials in cash, but these payments are only a small percentage of the quantum of payments that we make, the bulk of which is through electronic transfers.”

When asked the amount of cash the commission needed from the CBN, Oyekanmi said, “I do not have that information.”

In a related development, some political analysts have said the hope of curbing vote-buying through the introduction of the new naira notes in the forthcoming election may not be feasible as its scarcity would increase it.

A political analyst, Busari Dauda, said, “I foresee that there will be more vote-buying in the coming election and it will be cheaper because the policy is not favourable. A lot of people do not have cash.”

Another political analyst, Haruna Abdullahi, also said, “Whether there is cash or not, elections will be held. Nigerians will be induced. So many Nigerians make their electoral decisions based on ethnicity, religion or self interest. The money released by the Central Bank of Nigeria is domiciled in the hands of some Nigerians. The owners of some of these banks are politicians and there is little the government can do to contain vote-buying.”

He said politicians could end up deploying party agents in polling units to transfer money to voters.

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