Fresh crisis hit Presidency, Senate over INEC budget

The Senate Thursday approved the sum of N189.2 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

This is coming as sharp disagreement appeared to have broken between the Presidency and the upper chamber over the source of funding of the INEC budget.

In its approval, the Senate refused to give nod that the N189.2 billion for INEC should be sourced from Constituency Intervention Fund to fund the 2019 general elections.

The upper chamber resolved that the fund should be sourced from the Special Intervention Programme, as provided in the Service Wide Votes of the 2018 Appropriation Act.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter addressed to the Senate President in July, requested the Senate to vire over N242 billion from the N500 billion the National Assembly inserted into the 2018 budget as its Constituency Intervention Funds.

The fund, Buhari said, said was to enable the INEC and security agencies to conduct the 2019 general elections.

The Senate failed to approve the request due to its annual break in July.

The joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, held a series of meetings with INEC officials to address some grey areas in the INEC request.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, said that members resolved to ask the Presidency to find other sources of funding for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The lawmakers refused to approve the reduction of funds meant for their constituency projects to fund the 2019 general elections.

In another letter addressed to the Senate President which was read on Wednesday, President Buhari was silent on the source of funding for INEC election budget for 2018 elections.

It was however believed that President Buhari still wanted the fund to be sourced from the Constituency Intervention Funds.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations, which met on Wednesday to conclude work on the Presidential request, submitted its report Thursday.

The appropriation committee adopted the position of the INEC and Electoral Matters committee that the fund should be sourced from the Service Wide Vote.

The report of Appropriations Committee adopted by the Senate, said that N144.746 billion should be vired from the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent).

It vired another N44.260 billion from Special Intervention Programme (Capital), a total of N189.2 billion as requested by INEC.

Chairman of the committee, Mohammed Danjuma Goje, while presenting the report, said: “The sum of N189.2 billion requested for the funding of the 2019 general elections should be vired from both recurrent and capital components of Special Intervention Programme captured in the Service Wide Votes of the 2018 Appropriation Act and be added to the sum of N45.5 billion provided for INEC in the statutory transfers.

“This will bring the total budget of INEC in the 2018 budget to N234, 507 billion.”

“It is pertinent to mention that the recommendations on this interim report cover provisions for INEC’s 2019 general elections operations.

“In making this recommendation, the committee took into account the report of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on INEC, which met several times with INEC during the recess to justify the need for their component of the request.

“The final report which will cover the affected security agencies will be presented in the next legislative day.”

The Senate is likely to approve the fund for security agencies next week following a meeting of the Appropriation committee with security chiefs Thursday.

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