PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday asked the National Assembly to approve the sum of N242 billion to cover 2019 election expenses of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The President, in a letter to Senate President Bukola Saraki and which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, said that the lawmakers should also cut part of the funding for INEC’s election budget from the N578 billion already inserted into the 2018 budget.
The President, had while assenting to the 2018 budget made reference to some unilateral insertion of new projects worth N578 billion into the budget by the National Assembly.
The letter sent to the National Assembly is, therefore, seeking virement of nearly half of the funds projected for new projects as well as fresh funds to complete some other sectors he identified as critical.
According to President Buhari, the National Assembly is requested to source for INEC the sum of N164.104 billion out of the funds they inserted into the budget totalling N578 billion, while the balance of N78.340billon needed to complete INEC’s 2019 election funds would be provided for in the 2019 budget.
The development could, however, open another round of crisis between the National Assembly and the Presidency as the lawmakers have insisted that the funds injected into the 2018 budget were as a result of an increase in the crude oil benchmark and the need for federal character in projects.
In the letter read on Tuesday, President Buhari is asking the lawmakers to approve virement to source the bulk of the N242 billion INEC’s election fund for 2019.
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The President’s letter indicated that out of the proposed N242, 445, 322, 600.00 billion estimated funding of the 2019 general elections, the sum of N164.104billion should be appropriated for by the National Assembly through virement from inserted projects, while the balance of N78.340billon would be provided for in the 2019 budget provisions.
The letter also stated that the President requires that the total sum of N228, 864, 008, 215 billion would be subjected to virement out of the N578bn inserted into the N9.12trillion 2018 budget by the National Assembly.
The president’s letter read in part: “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 a budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose a further increase to the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items
“Accordingly, I invite the Distinguished Senate to consider, in the national interest, reallocating some of the funds appropriated for the new projects which were inserted into the 2018 Budget proposal totalling N578,319,951,904 to cover the sum of N228,854,008,215 required as noted above.”
President Buhari in the letter explained further that the urgently needed N164bn for funding of the 2019 general elections are to be allocated as follows: INEC – N143,512,529,455.00 bn; Office of the National Security Adviser-N3,855,500,000 billion; Department of State Services(DSS)-N2,903,638,000; Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps- N1,845,597,000; Nigeria Police Force- N11,457,417,432bn; and Nigeria Immigration Service-N530.1million.
If the President’s request for virement of the sum of N228bn is approved by the National Assembly, the amount left from the inserted new projects would stand at N350 billion.
While signing the 2018 budget last month, President Buhari had highlighted areas of disagreements with the legislature, while complaining about the insertion of new projects not in the contemplation of the executive.
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