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FG: We Won’t Confront N’Assembly over Mode of Funding 2019 Polls
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The federal government yesterday foreclosed any confrontation with the National Assembly over how to source the approved funds for the 2019 general election in the country.
Rather, the executive will engage the legislature on how to amicably resolve the issue of properly funding the forthcoming polls
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who dropped the hint while speaking exclusively with THISDAY on phone, declared: “We will not engage in any fight with the legislature over where the funding of the approved 2019 election budget will come from.”
He said the executive was currently working on how to have a better understanding of the issue with the legislature as represented by the National Assembly.
The presidential aide added that a conference of both the executive and legislature was currently being held to fashion out a model for the funding of next year’s general election.
According to him, “The two parties have started meeting since the Senate passed the INEC election budget last Thursday and we will continue to meet and very soon, the issue of funding will be resolved amicably.”
Senator Enang further said the executive had resolved to henceforth collaborate with the National Assembly on how to move the country forward through purposeful legislation “and this is clearly being displayed in our approach to the issue of funding of 2019.
The Senate had last Thursday while passing the INEC budget for 2019 polls approved N189 billion for the elections which will be vired from N500billion Special Intervention Programme approved in the N9.12 trillion 2018 budget .
This is contrary to the request of President Muhammadu Buhari who had in separate letters of request for virement of money for INEC budget for the conduct of the 2019 general election urged the National Assembly to source the election funds from the N578billion special votes inserted in the budget by the federal lawmakers for execution of about 1,403 additional projects included in it.
But the Senate, in its adoption of the five-page report of its committee on Appropriation which sought approval for the virement, last Thursday vired the N189billion from the N500billion earlier appropriated for Special Intervention Programmes proposed by the executive in the 2018 budget.
The Senate Committee headed by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), in its recommendation under source of funding, had advised “that the sum of N189, 007,272,393billion requested for the funding of the 2019 general election should be vired from both recurrent and capital components of Special Intervention Programme captured in the service wide votes of the 2018 Appropriation Act.”
The committee in the adopted report, which was not endorsed by five out of the 19-man committee namely: Senators Sunny Ogbuoji, Barau Jibrin, Adedayo Ibrahim,Tayo Alasoadura and Mohammed Hassan, recommended further that the sum of N45.5billion provided for INEC in the statutory transfers should be added to the vired N189billion which makes the total budget profile of INEC in the 2018 budget to N234,507, 272,393billion.
Specifically, the committee, in the adopted report, emphasised that while N144.7 billion will be vired from N350billion recurrent component of the Special Intervention Votes, the remaining balance of N44.2billion will be vired from N150billion capital component of the Special Intervention Programmes votes.