By Mourice Seretta
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has termed as ‘unfortunate’ remarks by Opposotion Leader Raila Odinga that the commission only needs Shs2 billion in case the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report that was recently released will see the country go into a referendum.
This is after the electoral body projected that the taxpayer will have to cough up to Shs14 billion to see a successful exercise as that of a referendum, a projection Raila termed outrageous prompting the commission to hit back at him.
The commission vehemently defended its estimates insisting that a popular initiative is an expensive affair.
In a statement released last evening by IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati, the commission insists that Raila’s claims are “unfortunate and lacks objectivity and understanding of the conduct of elections.”
“The estimated figure of Kshs. 14 billion given to the Public Accounts Committee was informed by historical data and previous experience in managing elections in the country.” Chebukati said.
Chebukati says the commission’s estimates are not far from the real cost citing the 2010 referendum which, he says, cost Kenyans Kshs.10 Billion even though the number of eligible voters then was much smaller than the numbers contained in the current register.
The commission’s chair says the cost per voter then was Kshs. 714 and that the figure would be higher if a referendum was to be held next year. Chebukati charged that as Prime Minister then, the Kshs. 10 billion referendum happened under Raila’s watch yet he never raised a question.
“It is disingenuous for him to cast such aspersion without seeking clarification from the commission,” Chebukati added
He further said that the 2017 repeat presidential poll which was a single ballot election like a referendum cost the country Kshs.12 billion adding that the commission will prepare a detailed budget once it receives a notification to conduct a referendum and that such a budget will be presented to relevant institutions for scrutiny and approval.
However, Raila insists that the country should be able to conduct a referendum at no more than Ksh. 2 billion for 20 million registered voters.
“Among countries with an established tradition of holding regular elections, the cost per voter ranges from approximately $1 to $2. There is absolutely no excuse why Kenya, with a long history of holding elections, should pay more,” Raila said.