2019: Why we approved N143bn budget for INEC-National Assembly
*Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters has said that the N143billion budget approved for the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, was in line with the supplementary budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari .
The approval was sequel to a resolution after more than one week of deliberations on the matter.
Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC, Bauchi), who made the disclosure Monday after a closed-door meeting, said the committee resolved that it was more favourably disposed to the N143bn proposal submitted by the President than the N182.9billion requested by the electoral umpire.
“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 then presents its budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President.
“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow. This committee will be reconvening tomorrow by 1pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC,” he said.
He was however silent on when the other N45 billion will be approved for the electoral commission, which is expected to review the budget earlier presented and present it before the committee, which will reconvene by 1 pm today to consider the N143bn INEC budget.
President Buhari had in his letter to the Senate, requested that N189.2 billion be approved for INEC. He asked that N143.5 billion be released this year and N45.6 billion be released in 2019.
However, the chairman of the electoral commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in his presentation, demanded for the entire N189.2 billion.
The commission’s request had caused members of the committee to again deliberate on whether to grant INEC’s request or that of the president.
The committee had failed to harmonise the divergent positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives last week, necessitating an adjournment for more consultations to be made.
It was gathered that while some members of the committee suggested that the entire N189 billion be approved as requested by INEC, others were of the opinion that approving the entire amount will be going against the president’s request.
Majority of the members including the chairman of the committee, Senator Nazif had on August 17, moved that the committee accept INEC requests and refer it to the committee on appropriation to determine how the funding will be made.
The INEC boss had earlier given several reasons for the increase in the budget after the lawmakers queried the N62 billion increment in the 2019 budget when compared to the N120billion requested in 2015.
He listed increase in number of political parties, increase in voter population and registered voters, high cost of logistics, exchange rates, and increase in number of constituencies as reasons for the increase in the proposed budget for 2019 election.
Recall that a House of Representatives committee had queried what it described as several duplications in the proposal presented by President Buhari, saying that many of the items contained in the supplementary proposal had already been covered in the 2018 Appropriation Act.