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2019: Senate approves N242bn poll budget today

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2019: Senate approves N242bn poll budget today

…summons NSA, IGP, other security chiefs

 

The Senate, yesterday, resolved to treat with dispatch President Muhammadu Buhari’s fresh request for its consideration and approval of the sum of N242,445,322,600, being the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies, for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Consequently, it quickly referred President Buhari’s letter to that effect to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, mandating it to expeditiously work on the request and submit its report to the chamber today for consideration and passage.

 

In line with the directive, members of the Appropriations Committee immediately left the plenary session to hold a meeting on the request in order to finish their assignment and submit the report to the Senate today. Buhari had earlier presented a budget proposal of N143.51 billion to the National Assembly for approval for the conduct of the 2019 polls, while noting that additional sum of N46 billion contained in the total package of N189 billion be reflected in the 2019 budget.

 

Consequent upon this initial request, which came in the week the National Assembly embarked on its annual recess, a joint Senate and House of Representatives’ committee on INEC met and approved the sum of N143.51 billion request by Buhari for the conduct of 2019 general elections.

 

However, the President forwarded a fresh letter yesterday, asking the National Assembly to approve both the INEC and the security agencies budgets for the conduct of the 2019 polls, totalling N242,445,322,600.00.

 

In the letter, Buhari said: “When the Hon. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, appeared before the joint Committee of the National Assembly, set up to consider my request, he was informed that the National Assembly would be willing to consider accommodating the total amount required for funding of the 2019 elections as part of the virement of the 2018 Appropriation Act, provided there was a specific request made by me.

 

“In the light of the current realities, and in order to ensure that the 2019 general elections are not affected by any delays in the passage into law of the 2019 Budget, I accept this kind suggestion. I, therefore, wish to formally request that the total amount of N242,445,322,600 requested by INEC, and the security agencies, be considered for inclusion in my virement request under the 2018 Appropriation Act.”

 

At the meeting of the Appropriations Committee, to consider the new request yesterday, the Chairman, Senator Danjuma Goje, stressed that the focus of the members should be to consider Buhari’s fresh request for approval of the INEC budget and that of security agencies at the same time, noting that INEC was already running out of time in preparing for the 2019 elections. He also used the opportunity to summon the heads of security agencies to come and meet with the committee today and defend their budgets so that everything would be treated expeditiously.

 

Those to appear before the committee include: National Security Adviser; Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS); Commandant, Civil Defence Corps; the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service. While addressing the committee, Goje said: “In line with our rules, we can go ahead and finalise action on the issue of INEC, but as for other allocations given to security agencies such as the Office of the National Security Adviser, DSS, Civil Defence, Nigeria Police and Nigeria Immigration Service, we have to invite the heads of these agencies tomorrow (today) together with the chairmen of these security committees.”

 

The breakdown of the cost of 2019 elections, shows that the INEC will take N189,207,544,893; Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), N4,281,500,000; DSS, N12,213,282,455; Civil Defence, N3,573,534,500; Nigeria Police Force, N30,541,317,432, and the Nigeria Immigration Service, N2,628,143,320.00.

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