The Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) has approved about N34.878 million for the conduct of this year’s National Officers Election.

This is a fallout of a painstaking review of the proposed interim budget submitted by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) led by respected senior lawyer, Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN.

The NBA-NEC had deferred the budget review from its quarterly meeting held on February 23, 2022 to yesterday’s Emergency Meeting to enable a thorough review of the proposed budget by members.

CITY LAWYER gathered that a constitutional crisis may have been averted by the passage of the budget, as today was the last day for the electoral umpire to issue the Preliminary Notice of Election in accordance with the amended constitution.

A source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that N4 million was shaved off the proposed budget as the electoral committee had secured a temporary office for N1 million at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry as against the earlier N5 million proposed for that purpose. The source also said that the NBA leadership is rehabilitating its old secretariat where the ECNBA will use as its permanent operational base.

While N4,044,000 was approved as office and administrative expenses, N2,760,000 was approved for ECNBA’s voter education/sensitization outreach. CITY LAWYER gathered that this will be held in clusters in the three zones, with branches invited to the clusters nearest to them for the exercise.

N17,978,000 and $15,000 were approved for the all-important “Technical/ICT” component of the assignment, while N3,871,300 was approved for office equipment such as laptops, photocopying machines, printers and projectors.

CITY LAWYER gathered from an unimpeachable source that the current framework is a departure from the last election when the electoral umpire did not have control of its budget and expenditure.

Asked about the total cost of the previous exercise, a key member of that committee said: “That is something I cannot confirm. The NBA paid directly for everything that was done during the elections. ECNBA members did not sign any cheques but only received individually what they required to carry out their duties and their approved allowances.

“Service providers were all paid by the NBA. As such, it is the NBA that can answer questions as to expenditure for the elections, not the ECNBA. The sums we received individually are on record, so it is only for those we can individually account.”

While a source told CITY LAWYER that NBA will continue to pay vendors as ECNBA does not have legal personality,  analysts believe that the arm’s length relationship between the ECNBA and the NBA leadership will foster greater independence for the electoral umpire and promote free and fair election come July 2022.

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