The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has inaugurated a 10-member Inter-agency Campaign Finance Monitoring Group.
The group which was inaugurated by INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okosi-Simbina, is to help monitor and track campaign spending of political parties and their candidates.
She said that the group would monitor the spending of all the candidates and political parties to ensure they did not exceed the amount specified by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Okosi-Simbina said that the group would be working with the Electoral Finance and Party Monitoring Department of the commission to track the finances.
She said that the report of the 2019 campaign finances would be released immediately after the forthcoming elections.
She said that in tracking the spending, the group would monitor campaign expenses including those on media and billboards.
“Vote-buying must be monitored too. And those reports must be published after the elections. Unlike what happened in the past, six months will be late for the report. We will ensure compliance to the electoral act, ” she added.
The Assistant Director, Campaign Finance Tracking Unit, INEC, Mr Ishaq Aliyu, who made a presentation during the inaugurated of the group, said that in monitoring the campaign finances in 2015 general elections, the Commission encountered some challenges.
These challenges, according to him, included inadequate manpower by INEC to monitor the registered political parties and lack of willingness by the media organisations to release vital information, among others.
Aliyu said that in spite of the challenges the commission recorded some level of success in tracking the 2015 campaign finance.
Learning from the 2015 experience, he said the Commission has taken some measures to improve on the process in 2019.
“We have built the capacity of our staff. We reviewed the tracking forms to include separate forms for candidates and political parties. The tracking ends on the day of election,” Aliyu said.
He expressed optimism that the tracking for this year electoral campaign would be successful.
Members of the committee include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Financial Investigation Unit (FIU), Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF)
The group under the leadership of Mr Eze Onyekpere, of the Centre for Social Justice, was expected to submit its report after six months.