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INEC budget : Crisis looms as NASS battles Buhari over source of elections funding

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By Henry Umoru
ABUJA
—STRONG indications emerged, yesterday,  that fresh crisis looms between Presidency andNational Assembly over the estimate of N9.2 trillion  2018 budget as President Muhammadu Buhari had recommended the virement of the N143 billion for 2019  elections budget from the N943.573 billion service wide votes provisions in the budget and not from N578 billion special votes the lawmakers approved in the general budget.

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As part of the looming shoe-down, the National Assembly, yesterday, told President Buhari that the sources of funding the 2019 elections budget should come from service wide vote.

The National Assembly, which, yesterday, overruled President Buhari on the budget through its Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, however, reduced the 2019 INEC budget by N200,272,500.

Briefing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja after a meeting of the  committee, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North) asked the President to source the fund from the service wide votes.

Service Wide Vote is a special intervention fund for the Presidency to use in special projects at its discretion, just as it will be recalled that N943,573,457,911 was allocated to Service Wide Votes in the N9.120 trillion 2018 budget.

Nazif who noted that the committee slashed the first component of INEC budget from N143,512,529,455 to N143,312,256,955, signifying a reduction of N200,272,500, said the committee’s recommendations would be forwarded to the Appropriations Committee and the National Assembly leadership for further legislative action.

He said : “The committee is suggesting to the  leadership of the National Assembly and the Committee on Appropriation to source the funding of this budget through virement from other Service-wide votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent) to ease consideration and avoid increase in the size of the 2018 expenditure frame work.”

Nazif who made the declaration in the presence of other committee members,  including the Co- Chair, Aisha Dukku ( APC Gombe) , also said that a total sum of N200, 272, 500.00million was also reduced from the N143.512bn election  budget proposal.

According to him, the reduced figures were arrived at from N50m cut from item 64 of the INEC budget proposal , N71m from item 74, N50m from item 125 and N29m from item 167, adding, “Subsequently,  after extensive deliberations the committee reviewed the INEC budget to “143.312.256.955.13; Signifying a reduction Of N200,272,500.00. These reductions cover items numbers 64. 74. 125 and 167 respectively.”

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