Fresh controversy appears to be trailing President Muhammadu Buhari’s request of the approval of the sum of N189,207,544,893.13 for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of 2019 elections.
This is coming as the Senate Committee on Appropriation on Wednesday resolved to give nod to the sum of N189.207 bn for the conduct of the elections as requested by the President.
President Buhari in a letter dated 19th September, 2018 requested for the holistic consideration and approval of INEC and security agencies budget for the 2019 elections.
The source of funding of the INEC’s 2019 election budget appears to be breeding discomfort among National Assembly members. Many senators asked consistently that the source of funding of the INEC budget should be clarified.
While President Buhari said that the N189.207 billion should be sourced from the N500 billion the National Assembly inserted into the 2018 budget, the joint National Assembly committee on INEC recommended that the money should be pulled from the over N900 billion Service Wide Vote in the 2018 budget.
A memo entitled “Submission of harmonised report of INEC 2019 general election supplementary budget estimates submitted to the Appropriation commission by Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Aishatu Jibril Dukku said:
“INEC was allocated the sum of N143,512,529,455 only as recommended by Mr. President for its 2019 general elections and indicated as amount needed for 2018.
“The balance of N45,695,015,438 billion was requested for appropriation under 2019 budget.
“However, the INEC presented the entire sum of N189,207,544,893.13 for the committee’s consideration.
“The committee after wide consultation with INEC decided on a budgetary allocation of the sum of N143,312,256,955.13 only.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje proposed at the meeting on Wednesday that the two letters by President Buhari should be combined “so that we give Mr. President what he wants.”
The proposal was unanimously carried.
Before the committee went into closed session to consider the seemingly knotty issue of the source of funding of the INEC budget, Goje announced that the committee resolved that N189,207,544, 893.13 as requested should be approved for INEC for the conduct of the 2019 elections.
On security budget for the election, Goje said that the committee also resolved to invite the National Security Adviser, Director General Department of State Services, Commandant Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Inspector General of Police, Comptroller General Nigeria Immigration Service and heads of other security agencies connected with the 2019 elections to appear before the committee to defend their budgets.
Goje emphasized that the N78,340,530535.00 for security agencies would be approved after the appearance of the heads of the agencies.
President Buhari in the letter entitled Re: Request for virement/supplementary budget said: “You recall that in my letter dated 11th July, 2018, I requested for the kind consideration of the National Assembly for a virement under the 2018 Appropriation Act.
“Part of this request was for the funding of the request made by the INEC and security agencies for the 2019 general elections.
“In that letter, I indicated that INEC and the security agencies had indicated that their total funding requirement for the 2019 elections would amount to N242,445,322,600.00.
“Of that amount, I have requested that N164,104,792,065,00 be accommodated in the 2018 budget, by way of virement within the 2018 Appropriation Act, whilst the balance of N78,340, 530,535.00, should be considered by the National Assembly as part of the 2019 budget.
“When the Hon. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, appeared before the Joint Committee of the National Assembly, set up to consider my request, he was informed that the National Assembly would be willing to consider accommodating the total amount required for the funding of the 2019 elections as part of the virement of the 2018 Appropriation Act, provided there was a specific request made by me.
“In the light of the current realities, and in order to ensure that the 2019 general elections are not affected by any delays in the passage into law of the 2019 budget, I accept this kind suggestion.
“I therefore wish to formally request that the total amount of N242,445,322,600.00 requested by INEC and the security agencies be considered for inclusion in my virement request under the 2018 Appropriation Act.
”I look forward to your urgent consideration of this request to ensure that the 2019 general elections are properly conducted.”
The implication of what Senate Appropriation committee did yesterday was that the entire INEC budget request would be accommodated as demanded by President Buhari.
The only hiccup may be the source of funding of the budget.