THE Joint Committee on Electoral Matters in the National assembly has voted to reject a proposal of N189 billion put forward by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the 2019 election.
The Joint Committee, however, chose to recommend for the approval of the National Assembly the sum of N143 billion as contained in the letter sent to the legislature by President Muhammadu Buhari.
After a meeting on Monday, the committee decided that it would only recommend for the approval by the Senate and the House of Representatives the sum of N143 billion as contained in the letter sent to the legislature on July 17, 2018.
INEC had submitted during the course of the committee’s work that it required a total sum of N189 billion, which President Buhari had earlier asked the National Assembly to split into two by approving N143 bn in 2018 and the balance in the 2019 budget.
After agreeing to only approve the sum of N143 billion, the committee also asked the Chairman of INEC and his management team to appear before it on Tuesday (today) for what it called reprioritization of INEC’s action plans.
The committee said that it needed to agree with INEC on the re-prioritisation plans to conform to the approved N143bn.
The Committee’s decisions came after two weeks of joint deliberations and interface on the 2019 election budget.
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Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Bauchi North) said after an executive session of the Committee that the committee has adopted the N143 billion proposal as the budget that would be recommended for the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He said: “The joint committee has sat and has deliberated the position to adopt the N143 billion as presented by Mr. President at
this point in time.
“It is also the wish of this committee that INEC represents their budget of N143bn as requested by Mr. President, therefore INEC has an opportunity to reprioritize and this committee will be ready to receive them.
“Therefore, this committee will be reconvening tomorrow by 1 pm to consider the representation of INEC.”
He put the question to his members saying: “Is this the true reflection of what transpired at the executive session?” The members
While appearing before the Joint Committee penultimate Wednesday, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu had said that the commission preferred that the National Assembly approved the entire N189 billion required for the election.
He had said: “Though Mr President’s budgetary requests for the commission for conduct of the 2019 general elections when put together, is N189 billion, but INEC will be on sound financial footing if its entire budgetary proposal of N189billion is approved for it this year and not N143bn requested for in the President’s letter.”
The letter by President Buhari had explained to the National Assembly that out of the N189 billion budgeted by INEC for the conduct of 2019 general elections, N143bn should be appropriated for it this year through virement from the N578bn additional votes inserted into the budget by the National Assembly, while the balance of N45.6bn should be captured for INEC in the 2019 budget.
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