The National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters on Monday settled on the N143.512 billion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of INEC as part of the 2019 elections budget.
The amount is to be approved under virement/supplementary budget under the 2018 appropriations act, while a balance of N45.7bn would be approved in the 2019 budget.
This has brought to an end the disagreement between lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over which component of the proposal to be approved.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had a fortnight ago through its chairman Prof Mahmud Yakubu said it would prefer the total elections budget of N189.2bn to be approved at once against Buhari’s request for N143.512bn.
While APC members in the joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives said the INEC’s proposal should be considered, their PDP counterparts insisted that they should go with Buhari’s request.
This led to a disagreement between the two groups, resulting in a deadlock during their meeting about 10 days ago.
But at the resumption of their meeting yesterday, the lawmakers agreed to work on Buhari’s request and asked INEC to present a fresh elections budget proposal based on the N143.512bn.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting of the joint committee at the National Assembly, the chairman of the Senate Committee, Sen Suleiman Nazif Gamawa (PDP, Bauchi) said they would resume meeting today with INEC in attendance.
“As you are aware, our last meeting was held on August 17. We decided to resume today (yesterday) August 27 to consider the harmonised budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“The Joint Committee has sat, and we have deliberated a position to adopt the N143bn earlier presented to us by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is the wish of this Committee that INEC presents the N143 billion as requested by Mr President.
“This Committee therefore adjourns and will reconvene tomorrow (today) by 1pm to consider the N143 INEC budget,” he said.
Our correspondents gathered that the lawmakers, mainly of the APC, had to bow to superior argument that INEC could not on its own present a budget for itself without coming through the Executive arm.
It was learnt that since President Buhari presented a request of N143bn to be approved first under virement, the National Assembly could not jettison the president’s request and go with that of the electoral umpire.
Meanwhile, a key member of the joint panel told Daily Trust that INEC cannot spend a dime without adhering to the Public Procurement Act.
The lawmaker, who did not want to be named, said: “INEC lacks power to spend a dime except it complies with the provisions of the Procurement Act Sections 16 (1 a-g), 18 and 21.
“INEC should work within the ambit of the law in order to ensure transparency and efficient management of our meagre resources as well as successful conduct of the elections,” the lawmaker said.Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor revealed on Friday that the invited players are expected to fly directly to Seychelles, arriving on Monday, 3rd September, while the one player (goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa) and team officials traveling from Nigeria will fly into Victoria on Sunday, 2nd September.