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Include us in 2019 election budget, parties beg Senate

*Allege FG plot to freeze senate account
Chairmen and leaders of some political parties on Thursday demanded fair share in the 2019 election budget by demanding that the Senate considers them in the fund for political parties in the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This is coming ahead of next week possible reconvening of the Senate to consider request by the presidency for ratification of supplementary budget for INEC ‘s proper preparation for the polls.

The parties under the umbrella of National Chairmen and Leaders of Political Parties made this position known when they paid solidarity visit to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki at the National Assembly complex.

Presenting the group’s position, Chief Perry Okpara, National Chairman of National Unity Party (NUP), said the parties needed to be adequately funded to enable them sensitize voters and reduce incidence of voters apathy witnessed in the past.

He said, “We wish to demand for inclusion in the 2019 budget/ supplementary budget request sent by the presidency for 2019 election for funds for all political parties for citizen sensitization so that the usual voter apathy witnessed in previous elections will not be experienced in 2019.

“We strongly request that the 8th Senate amend the request and include money for the political parties on the purpose of mobilization of Nigerians to participate in the 2019 elections, anti-electoral offences/ violence campaign and education of voters in the 774 LGAs which the political parties have presence”

He, however, said the inclusion of a fund for political party is not a return to era of INEC funding of political parties but due to the urgency and strategic importance of the 2019 election and the crucial role the political parties will be playing for this general election.

Okpara also claimed that he had a reliable information that the federal government is planning to freeze the corporate account of the Senate as well as those of individual senators including that of the senate president.

He said this might be in furtherance of the face-off between the executive and the legislative arm of government.

The party chairman promised the support of the political parties in resisting attempt to intimidate the parliament.

The political parties also requested that an approval be made for a representative to act as a liaison officer between political parties and the National Assembly who “shall monitor bills before the Assembly on behalf if the parties.

“Our representatives will be on prono-bono service as part of our contribution to ensuring a productive working relationship between political parties and the legislature.

Okpara had earlier told Saraki that the visit was to show their solidarity with the leadership of the National Assembly for standing up in defence of democracy in the face of the recent siege in the complex by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Responding, Saraki reiterated the resolve and commitment of the 8th Senate and indeed the National Assembly, to continue to protect and defend the nation’s fledgling democracy.

He said as direct representatives of the people, lawmakers will continue to play their role to ensure that the rule of law is followed and that human rights are respected in the country.

“We will continue to defend it. We will continue to ensure that there is respect for the rule of law and that due process is followed across the country,” he added.

He said that the perpetrators of the recent siege on the National Assembly have learnt their lesson from the wide condemnation that has continued to trail the anti-democratic action.

He said: “It is our hope that those anti-democratic forces have leant their lesson in the last few days, to listen to the voice of Nigerians – men, women, boys and girls – all across the country, who stood firmly to reject their unconstitutional and anti-democratic action.

“Their voice is loud and clear. I believe we must respect it. We must respect those that have made sacrifices for us to be here.

“Some have paid the ultimate price and we must respect that and ensure that Nigeria, as a country, is a shinning example for other democratic nations to emulate. We must not allow anything that will tarnish the image of this country and the democracy we have worked so hard to birth and sustain,” he stated.

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