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2019 polls: FG seeks NASS approval for N242bn budget

2019 polls: FG seeks NASS approval for N242bn budget

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Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly seeking approval for the sum of N242 billion to fund the February 2019 general elections.

Of the total sum, N228, 854,008,215 would be vired from the controversial N578.319 billion, allegedly inserted into the budget by the National Assembly.

The existing N49 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2018 budget, will form part of the money being requested.

According to a letter read on the floor of the Senate, yesterday by Bukola Saraki, INEC is expected to get N189.2 billion, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) N4.2 billion and the Department of State Services N12.2 billion.

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) will get N3.573 billion, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) N30.541 billion, and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) N2.628 billion.

The request was contained in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate, dated July 11 and personally signed by Buhari.

The letter indicated that Buhari requested that out of the needed figure, N164.10 billion should be provided through virement or supplementation of 2018 Budget.

READ ALSO: Buhari signs N9.12trn 2018 budget today

It also requested that the balance of N78.34 billion, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided for in the 2019 budget.

Also to be funded from the “inserted funds’’, he stated, was additional N64.75 billion for reinstatement of critical project cuts in 2018 budget, bringing total figure to get from the “inserted funds’’ to N228.85 billion.

The letter stated that the request to deduct N228.85 billion from the N578.31 billion was in view of fiscal constraint, which would not allow for over-burdening of the 2018 budget.

“You will also recall that when I signed the 2018 Appropriation Act, I indicated the need to request the reinstatement of certain cuts made to certain critical projects provided in the original Executive Bill.

“I am therefore submitting for your consideration the reinstatement of the most critical of such cuts totalling N64, 749, 216, 150.

“The total amount required to be provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 general elections and to restore the identified critical projects to the amount earlier proposed is therefore N228, 854, 008, 215.

“Implementing budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose further increase to the 2018 Expenditure Framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items.

“Accordingly, I urge the Distinguished Senate to consider, in national interest, relocating some of the funds appropriated for new projects inserted into 2018 Budget totalling N578,319,951,904 to cover the N228, 854, 008, 215 required as indicated,” the letter stated.

If the National Assembly approves the request of President Buhari and vires the monies to fund the 2018 general elections and other critical projects, lawmakers may lose part of their constituency projects.

Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, had while responding to Buhari’s claims that lawmakers inserted projects into the budget, said it was done to reflect the principles of federal character.

Abdullahi said as lawmakers, they were closer to the people and were therefore in a better position to insert projects that will have direct bearings on the people.

Leadership of the National Assembly is yet to announce when the contents of the letter will be discussed, as both chambers are expected to embark on their annual recess next week. They may not resume until October.

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