Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media, Mr. Olu Onemola, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of not being committed towards the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Onemola, in a release issued in Abuja on Sunday against the backdrop of allegation by Buhari Media Organisation that Saraki was slowing down the approval of the 2019 election budget approval, said President Buhari was desperate to frustrate the conduct of the 2019 polls by denying the nation the enabling law to conduct the elections.
According to him, the President has refused to assent to the 2018 Electoral Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly.
“The Electoral Bill passed by the National Assembly to help legalise the various innovations that needed for free and fair elections is still absent because President Muhammadu Buhari chose to withhold his assent the first time it was transmitted.
“The question the Buhari Media Organisation should ask their principal is: What is he afraid of in the very progressive proposals contained in the Electoral Bill? Why does he want to frustrate the 2019 election by denying the nation the much-needed enabling law?”
He described the Buhari Media Organisation’s attack on the Senate President as a clear example of “conscientious ignorance on full display.”
Onemola stated that despite the unforced errors on the part of the Executive, which failed to submit the general elections budget on time, the relevant committees of the National Assembly were still working assiduously to ensure that due process is followed in approving the President’s request.
The media aide noted that the Nigerian people were aware that the Executive branch could have submitted INEC’s 2019 Election budget at the time it submitted the 2018 appropriations proposal last year adding that the Executive had from January till June this year to submit the budget request.
“However, due to a perceived lack of foresight, display of usual tardiness or an attempt to ensure that due process would not be followed, this request was submitted only a few days before the statutory National Assembly annual recess.
“Regardless of this unforced error on the part of the Executive, the National Assembly has continued its work on this budget. As it stands: the relevant Senate and House Committees have held individual budgetary hearings with the INEC Chairman and all his Commissioners on this budget. They have also held follow-up Joint Committee meetings to carefully scrutinize the provisions of the budget.
He further said that the Joint Committees are now scheduled to meet on Monday, August 27 “when they are expected to come up with a Committee report that will be sent to the Appropriations Committee, which will spell out how to source the President’s virement request through the concerned MDAs.”
According to him, any person or organisation that is conversant with legislative due process would know that it is only after the Appropriations Committee has worked on the budget details that a plenary sitting is required to adopt the final report.
He stressed the commitment of the National Assembly towards ensuring that the 2019 elections receive all necessary funding adding however that “this should not be at the expense of due process and stated guidelines”.