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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,29TH OCT 2020-Opposition leader Raila Odinga has come out to dismiss reports from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that the impending referendum will cost taxpayers nearly Ksh.14 billion, instead saying the figure should not surpass Ksh.2 billion.
Raila, in a statement released on Thursday, termed the report an indication that the commission needs to be overhauled, alleging that the reasoning alludes to schemes to rip off the country during elections.
According to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party boss, this cannot be allowed to soil the impending referendum exercise occasioned by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report which he said is meant to “to stop the culture of theft of public resources and corruption in public offices.”
“A statement attributed to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that the upcoming referendum will cost up to Ksh.14 billion is the latest indication that the electoral body and the entire election management in Kenya must be overhauled and streamlined,” said Raila.
“Elections have become one of the major avenues for ripping off the country through various schemes that are never meant to save costs or yield credible results but to line pockets of individuals. Those schemes are evident in the IEBC’s latest reasoning.”
He added: “The upcoming referendum is intended to bring sanity to our election processes including aligning the costs to the global trends.”
According to the ODM chief, cost per voter in countries that hold regular elections ranges from $1 (approx. Ksh.100) to $2 (Ksh.200), hence there is no reason why Kenya should pay more.
“In a country with government institutions including police stations, schools, national and county government offices and government vehicles in every corner in addition to a fairly well developed transport infrastructure, we should be able to conduct a one ballot referendum at no more than Ksh.2 billion for 20 million voters,” he said.
“The Ksh.14 billion the IEBC is talking about is not only outrageous but also a manifestation of the institution’s insensitivity to the changes Kenyans are crying for in the management of public affairs.”
The former premier further stated that a team will soon be selected to sit with IEBC and itemize what will lead to a cost-effective referendum exercise and elections.