…Cuts N200m from INEC’s N143bn request
…Insists fund budgeted for constituency projects stays
The supremacy crisis between the executive and the National Assembly over the N9.1 trillion 2018 budget was rekindled on Thursday as the joint committee on INEC and Electoral Matters rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) N143 billion proposal be funded from the N578billion special fund they inserted in the budget, as the committee recommended that the executive vire the money from the N943.5 billion service wide vote controlled by the executive.
The joint committee of the National Assembly on INEC and Electoral Matters at the end of its over two weeks harmonisation exercise of the 2019 election budget, suggested to the leadership of the National Assembly and its joint committee on appropriations to source the funding through virement from other service wide votes of N943.5 billion under the Special Intervention Programme (recurrent).
This, the committee said, was to ease consideration and avoid increase in the size of the 2018 expenditure framework.
But the suggestion by the committee can be seen as a way of getting back at the Presidency over the executive’s request to vire INEC’s requirement from the inserted N578 billion special intervention fund for 1, 403 projects added to capital projects in the 2018 budget.
On July 17, 2018, the President through an executive communication requested the National Assembly to fund the N164, 104, 792, 065. 00 supplementary budget for the conduct of the 2019 elections, from money he alleged was inserted in the 2018 budget by the legislature.
In a statement by its chairman, Senator Suleiman Nazif, the committee also slashed INEC’s request by N200 million to N143, 312, 256, 955.
He said the joint committee considered the request from the President for the first component of the election budget of N143, 512, 529, 455.00 to be vired under the 2018 budget due to reasons of financial constraint established in the presidential communication to the National Assembly, while the second component of N45, 695,015, 438.00 is expected to be funded from the 2019 budget, also as requested by the President.
He added that both the requests of the President and INEC’s submission to the committee marked the total package for the 2019 general elections at N189, 207, 544, 893.
Senator Nazif, however, said the committee remains available at all times to consider any further request from the Presidency for the second component of the N45, 695, 015, 438.00 for the 2019 general elections.