The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has inaugurated a 10-member Inter-agency Campaign Finance Monitoring Group to help monitor and track campaign finances of political parties and their candidates in the 2019 general elections.

INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okosi-Simbina, while inaugurating the group on behalf of the commission, said that the aim was to monitor the spending of all the candidates and politicalhe amount specified by the Electoral Act  2010 (as amended).

She said that the group would be working with the Electoral Finance and Party Monitoring Department of the commission  to track the finances.

Okosi-Simbina said that the report of the 2019 campaign finances would be released immediately after the forthcoming  election.

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, ” Simbina added.

The Assistant Director, Campaign Finance Tracking Unit, INEC, Mr Ishaq Aliyu, making a presentation on the inaugurated group, said that in monitoring the campaign finances in 2015 general elections, the commission  encountered  some challenges.

These challenges, according to him, include 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 recote of the challenges the commission recorded some level of success in tracking the 2015 campaign finance.

He said that the commission learning from the 2015 experience took 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. (NAN)