FG, Lawmakers on Collision over N242bn Virement for 2019 Election

Shola Oyeyipo

Indications emerged wednesday that the presidency and the National Assembly may be heading for collision over the sum of N242.205 billion approved for the 2019 general elections from the constituency projects under the Service Wide Vote allocation in the 2018 Appropriation Act.

THISDAY gathered that the disagreement is emanating from the refusal of the lawmakers to comply with the request of President Muhammadu Buhari who asked the National Assembly to provide the virement from the N557 billion inserted into the budget by the federal lawmakers for their constituency projects.

The N557 billion, it was learnt, is aside the statutory N100 billion which the parties had agreed on.

Apparently to address the issue, principal officers of both chambers of National Assembly led by the duo of the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun and the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan went into a closed-door meeting to discuss what they described as sensitive issues.

In attendance at the meeting were Senator Phillip Aduda; Senator Abiodun Olujimi; Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, and Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly (House), Suleiman Kawu.

On the federal government delegation were Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who was accompanied by Director General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze; Director General of Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha and others.

While excusing journalists who were initially invited to attend the meeting, Lasun said the meeting was sensitive, stressing that it does not require media presence: “Ordinarily this is a meeting we always hold behind closed-door,” he added.

It was however, gathered that the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Mustapha Dawaki, was earlier in the day at the State House to explain the reason for the virement of N242 billion from the constituency project allocation under the Service Wide Vote as contained in the 2018 Appropriation Act, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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