By Nuel Suji – The National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved N143 billion for the Commission for the 2019 elections.
The committee adopted N143 billion which is the amount requested by President Muhammadu Buhari in his July proposal to the National Assembly.
The amount is short of the N45.6bn proposed to be vired from the 2019 budget.
Mr. Buhari had requested that a total of N189.2 billion be released to INEC. He asked that N143.5 billion be released this year and N45.6 billion in 2019.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, had also explained that the president requested the approval of N143 billion because he did not want an increase in the overall size of the 2018 budget.
Mr. Udoma said if the joint committee wishes to approve the entire N189billion without resulting into increase in the N9.12trillion 2018 budget size, so be it and would be appreciated by the executive.
“Mr President will have no objection to the national assembly approving the entire N189billion INEC budget as long as it does not in anyway, lead to increase in the overall size of the 2018 budget,” he had told the committee.
“If this is to be done, the N45.6billion the president in his letter proposed to be provided for in the 2019 budget, would also have to be vired along with the N143billion from the N578billion fund appropriated for in the 2018 budget by the national assembly for the additional 1,403 projects included in the budget.”
The INEC budget had generated controversy among the federal lawmakers with some, mainly those in the All Progressives Congress (APC) argued for the approval of N189 billion while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers pushed for the adoption of N143 billion.
Chairman of the joint committee, Suleiman Nazif, said INEC had been asked to represent the N143 billion for consideration, explaining that was the figure it adopted on Monday.
“The joint committee sat and has come up with the resolution to adopt the N143 billion presented by Mr. President. It is also the wish of this committee that INEC present their budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President,” he said.
“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise its expenditure on the N143 billion and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow.
“This committee will be reconvening tomorrow (today) by 1pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC.”