TSA would put INEC under Buhari’s control – Jega
Former Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Chairman, Attahiru Jega has warned that the inclusion of the electoral body under the ongoing Treasury Single Account, TSA, initiative by the Federal Government would be disastrous as it would subject INEC to the control of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He added that financial independence of INEC as an electoral body was not a thing to toy with and such ought not be subjected to executive control.
Jega raised this alarm while speaking at the at the 2015 e-Nigeria Governance Forum in Abuja, and expressed suspicions of the full implementation of the TSA which he observed could hamper the effectiveness of electoral processes.
He stressed that the availability of financial resources in the operations of INEC in line with international minimum benchmarks and global best practices could be hampered by these developments.
“Electoral processes cannot be effective if an EMB is starved of funds and/or has to go cap in hand to an incumbent executive begging for funds before it can conduct an election.
“The financial autonomy of INEC needs to be strengthened.
“It should continue to be on first line charge and have all its funds released through the statutory transfer fund as appropriated by the National Assembly.
“Subjecting an electoral Commission to the so-called single treasury account, I believe, is a recipe for disaster.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had frozen all bank accounts operated by INEC, following the commission’s failure to comply with TSA directive for all ministries, agencies and departments.
This has crippled the activities of the electoral body expected to conduct 2 governorship elections in November and December. The decision to freeze INEC’s account has since sparked confusion and doubt over the level of independence of an independent body like the electoral umpire.
There have been warnings saying if the financial autonomy of INEC was not guaranteed, the President who would be in control of its finances, could be overbearing in the decisions of the body, an action which could consequently affect the elections and electoral processes in the country.
It could be recalled that in the buildup to the November 21 Gubernatorial elections in Kogi State, the President had been involved in an alleged plot to scuttle the election in favor of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate Audu Abubakar.
This has been interpreted as the outcome of the unofficial meeting between INEC and the President in a closed door 5 minutes meeting.
If the autonomy of the electoral body is not guaranteed, the aim of attaining a free and fair election might not be attained.