“If this is to be done, the N45.6billion the President in his letter proposed to be provided for in the 2019 budget, would also have to be vired along with the N143billion from the N578billion fund appropriated for in the 2018 budget by the National Assembly for the additional 1,403 projects included in the budget.”
But when taken up by the committee members on whether he has authorisation over the submission he made for the approval of the N189 billion as against N143 billion requested for by the President for INEC this year, the Minister said: “Discretion on which of the requests to be approved by you now, is yours. If you approve the N143 billion the President requested for, it is okay and if you approve the entire N189 billion for INEC this year, it is also alright.
“Any of the two is okay for the executive, except that if you approve the N189 billion through virement, the N45.6 billion planned to be captured in the 2019 budget, would no longer be part of the budget estimates for that year”.
Responding, the Committee Chairman, Suleiman Nazif said that the essence of inviting the Budget Minister, the Presidential liaison officer in the National Assembly, Senator Ita Enang along with INEC officials was for Nigerians to see that the committee’s work is transparent, nationalistic and not in any way partisan.
He declared:”We are not here to play politics with the 2019 election budget. No confusion, no ambiguity on submissions and request made and before us.
“It is our prerogative as a committee to critically look into all the details and recommend either of the two requests for approval by the committee of both chambers.”
At this point, Senator Nazif announced the adjournment of the joint committee meeting sine die .
Meanwhile, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, disclosed in Abuja yesterday that Nigeria’s registered voters are now 82 million.
Yakubu who made this disclosure while answering questions from journalists in the Presidential Villa, said that the number of registered voters rose to 82 million on August 11, from the hitherto record of 70 million.
According to him, the recent figure showed that additional 12.1 million voters were registered between April 27, 2017 and August 11, 2018 as part of the continuous registration exercise, adding that following constant appeal from Nigerians, further registration will continuetill August 31.
Yakubu said the registration exercise was extended to August 31, bearing in mind that the extant law gives room for voters’ registration up to six months to the general election.
The INEC boss, who said the registration exercise would take place every day including weekends, disclosed that only public holidays would be excluded. However, he added that whereas registration would formally end on August 31, collection of permanent voter cards would continue until one week to the general election..
Furthermore, he disclosed that the N189.2 billion submitted by the executive to the National Assembly for the conduct of the 2019 elections was in accordance with the request of INEC.
He also dismissed insinuations that the 2019 elections might be postponed, saying there is no condition whatsoever under which Nigerians elections could be postponed.
He said: “Well, we have made the clarification that the National Assembly asked for and I am happy that the National Assembly and the two committees on INEC expressed satisfication on the clarification that we made for the matter of appropriation.
“So, we look forward to hearing what the National Assembly will say. But we also need to make this very important clarification. The commission requested for N189.2 billion. That is what the executive proposed to the National Assembly. There are no discrepancies in the figures at all.”