The National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday overruled President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on the source of funding for the 2019 general elections.
While President Buhari had in his letter to the National Assembly said the lawmakers should vire the money from the projects inserted into the 2018 budget, the joint committee said the money should be sourced through service-wide votes.
According to the 2018 budget, the service-wide votes of the president is N943.5 billion.
The joint committee said after extensive deliberation, it decided to reduce the election budget of N143,512,529,455.00 by N200,272,500.00.
Addressing journalists on the harmonisation of the INEC 2019 budget, the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Sen. Suleiman Nazif, said: “The joint committee considered the request by Mr. 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 by the 2019 budget, also as requested by Mr. President.
“Importantly, both the request of Mr. President and INEC submission to the committee marked the total package for the 2019 general election at N189,207,544,893.00; therefore, 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 election.
“Subsequently, after extensive deliberations, the committee reviewed the INEC budget to N143,312,256,955.13, signifying a reduction of N200,272,500.00.
“These reductions cover item Nos 64, 74, 125 and 167, respectively.
“Therefore, the reviewed figures of N143,312,256,955.13, as reached, is the recommendation of the joint committee that will be forwarded to both the leadership and Appropriation Committee for further legislative consideration.
“In furtherance, the committee is suggesting to the leadership of the National Assembly and the Committee on Appropriation to source the funding of this budget through virement from other service-wide votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent) to ease consideration and avoid an increase in the size of the 2018 expenditure framework.”