With the delay by the National Assembly to reconvene and decide on the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Wednesday said the federal government could fund next year’s general election by invoking the doctrine of necessity should the lawmakers fail to pass the budget.
Sagay contended that the overriding necessity of elections and survival of democracy supersede the National Assembly’s powers where democracy is threatened.
Sagay, in a statement, said while the power to approve the budget is only a single item in the 1999 Constitution, democracy and its processes, including elections, are what the Constitution are about.
He further stated that the failure or refusal by the National Assembly to approve funds for the 2019 elections would constitute a sabotage of the country’s democracy, of which the Constitution is the embodiment.
The statement reads: “If elections are not held, it will mean the collapse of our democracy, leading to chaos and anarchy. The question that arises is simple.
“Which is more critical to democracy and the survival of Nigeria: Is it (1) the power of the National Assembly to approve budgets or (2) the survival of democracy and Nigeria itself?
“If the survival of democracy is more important and fundamental to Nigeria’s existence, then failure to approve the budget for elections will trigger the doctrine of necessity, thus compelling the funding of election without the approval of the National Assembly.
“It is simply a question of the survival of democracy and the continued existence of Nigeria. The power of approval of budget is just a single item in the whole of the Constitution.
“On the contrary, elections and democracy which they support, constitute what the whole Constitution is about.
“Therefore, the overriding necessity and imperative of elections and democracy simply override the power of National Assembly.
“If the National Assembly refuses or fails to approve the budget for election, the doctrine of necessity will validate the provision of the funds without the National Assembly’s approval.”
The National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC is to reconvene on Monday to conclude work on the 2019 INEC budget submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The committee had failed to harmonise the divergent positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives last week, necessitating an adjournment for more consultations to be made on the differential between Buhari’s request for N143 billion and INEC’s N189 billion estimates for the funding of the impending 2019 elections.