A National Assembly joint committee has okayed the N143 billion component of the N189 billion requested by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Rising from a meeting at the National Assembly complex in Abuja Monday, the lawmakers said they chose to adopt the N143 billion as presented to the federal legislature by President Muhammadu Buhari in July.
Citing funding constraint, the President had, in his letter to the legislature, asked the lawmakers to first consider the N143 and wait for the remaining N45 billion to be co-opted into the 2019 national budget.
Going by the electoral commission’s schedule for the 2019 elections, the N143 billion ought to have hit INEC’s coffers by August 15, to meet up with a minimum of 180 days to the first round of election (February 16, 2019).
The INEC had, during previous deliberations, pleaded with the joint committee to process the entire N189 billion at once, citing the usual delay in the passage of the annual national budget.
But the lawmakers had countered that doing so would overshoot the 2018 budget template, stating however, that the executive could as well present the N45 billion through supplementary budget as soon as possible.
Speaking after a closed door session that lasted about 40 minutes, the chairman of the panel, Senator Suleiman Nazif, called on the INEC to prioritise its expenditure schedule on the N143 billion.
Nazif said, “The joint committee sat and has come up with the resolution to adopt the N143 billion presented by Mr. President.
“It is also the wish of this committee that INEC present their budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President.
“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise its expenditure on the N143 billion and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow.
“This committee will be reconvening tomorrow (today) by 1pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC”.