National Assembly committee adopts N143bn budget for 2019 elections

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Joint Committee on INEC haired by Senator Suleiman Nazif.

A joint committee of Nigeria’s National Assembly, currently considering the budget proposal for the 2019 general election, has adopted the =N=143 billion request earlier submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Monday’s adoption of the harmonised figure follows a meeting of the committee in which the members deliberated on the Predident’s proposal as against the =N=189 billion adjusted figure re-presented to the parliament by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Addressing journalists after the meeting which held behind closed doors, Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, emphasised that the electoral umpire, INEC, now had the opportunity to prioritise its actiivities by representing the elections budget proposal based on the latest development as agreed by members of the committee.

According to him, the National Assembly would be ready to receive the new budget proposal from INEC, as long as it complied with the decision of the joint committee reached on the 27th of August.

” 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 =N=143bn as requested by Mr. President, therefore INEC has an opportunity to reprioritize and this committee will be ready to receive them.

“This committee will be reconvening tomorrow by 1:00 o’clock. Is that a true reflection of what we discussed at the joint committee? ” The members answered “Yes”.

The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu in a recent submission to the National Assembly, presented a budget proposal of =N=189 billion as required, to conduct the 2019 general election.

The figure however, is =N=46 billion higher than what the President had demanded in his original submission for the polls.

According to the President’s request in a letter dated July 17, 2018, the overall sum demanded by the Executive for the general election is =N=189 billion, but the President asked the lawmakers to approve =N=143 billion for INEC’s conduct of the forthcoming elections while the balance of nearly =46= billion is expected to be captured in the 2019 budget.

It was on the basis of the President’s letter and INEC’s submission that the joint committee decided to meet on Monday to harmonise and adopt the requested figure as contained in President Buhari’s July letter to the National Assembly.