Presidential Aide, Sen. Ita Enang, says National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no final say on source of funds for 2019 general elections.
Enang, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), made this known when at a Forum in Abuja.
The National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC had on Aug. 30, recommended that INEC’s N143 billion for the elections should be funded from Service Wide Votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent).
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Suleiman Nazif, had said that the recommendation was to ease the consideration and avoid increasing the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework.
But, Enang said that the lawmakers’ recommendation could not be final as the whole process would have to be approved by all the lawmakers at plenary.
“The call is inquorate because it can only be complete if it is presented to the plenary.
“When the committee was considering it, I asked if there is the budget of the Office of the National Security Adviser, DSS, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service and others.
“Is your committee going to consider these budgets? they said no, that those other ones will be considered by other committees.
“If they are not considering the budget of other agencies, the question of where to source the money has not even arisen.
“Until each of the other committees considers the budget of these other agencies and recommend it to the House and the house sits to consider it, only then will the question or otherwise arise,” he said.
The presidential aide noted that the National Assembly acted in error to have asked the joint committee to sit when the source of funding for the general budget for the election had not been determined.
“The question of sourcing of funds. What should have been done first is to source for money before it can be appropriated by the committee.
“It should have been the Appropriation Committee and Finance Committee sitting and either amend this or decide if we will take money from somewhere else.
“The president has stated that he does not want to increase the size of the budget because the budget already is a deficit budget and a great part of it is going to be funded from borrowing.
“He is saying, look at the money within the budget you have done thus far and I am suggesting that you take it from this head.
“You are not bound to take it only from that head. You can take from that head and from any other thing which you may have forgotten but does not reduce the project of the executive.
“So, until all these are done and the source of the money gotten, nothing has approved,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that INEC had adjusted its budget for 2019 elections from N189 billion to N143 billion in line with recommendation of the National Assembly committee.
The committee had on Aug. 27 recommended N143 billion for approval for the commission’s preparation ahead of the general elections.
This was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s request on July 11 when he sought the legislators’ approval of N242 billion for the elections.
Specifically, he said that N164.10 billion of the funds was urgently needed to enable INEC to commence preparations for the elections, while the balance of N78.34 billon would be provided for in 2019 Budget.
The President had in his letter of request explained that the urgently needed N164 billion would be allocated as follows: INEC, N143.51 billion; Office of National Security Adviser, N3.86 billion and Department of State Services (DSS), N2.90 billion.
Others are Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, N1.85 billion; Nigeria Police Force, N11.46 billion and Nigeria Immigration Service, N530.1million.
The president recommended that the money be vired from the 2018 Budget, especially from the N587 billion, which he said was inserted by the lawmakers into the budget, raising it from N8.6 trillion to 9.12 trillion.