Senate: Presidency Approved Virement of N122bn from MDAs to Fund INEC Budget

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The Senate in session
  •  Executive pressurised us to revise source of funding
  •  Udoma: President asked them to vire from the projects they inserted in budget

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate friday defended its reversal of the mode of funding the 2019 general elections, saying it revisited the issue due to too much pressure on members of the Appropriations Committee by the Executive.

But in a swift reaction, the Minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said President Muhammadu Bunari was clear in his memo to the lawmakers, asking them to vire from the projects they inserted into the budget.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, explained in Abuja that the Senate’s decision to rescind and revise the methods of funding the supplementary budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies for the conduct of the 2019 general elections, was done in good faith, after due consultation with the Executive.

Ibrahim recalled that the Senate on October 16th, passed the N242, 245, 050,100 virement request, stipulating that it should be funded from the Service Wide Vote.

He said: “The insinuations being peddled that the Senate single-handedly and unilaterally cut the budgets of critical MDAs is false. Such actions are uncharacteristic of this 8th Senate.

“The facts remain that on Tuesday, October 16th, the Senate approved a Report that stipulated that the supplementary funding for INEC and security agencies to conduct the 2019 election should be sourced from the Service Wide Vote of the Executive through virement. This information is everywhere.

“However, the Executive came up with a counter-proposal that the election be funded through both the Service Wide Vote and the budgets of 30 MDAs – on a pro rata basis. This is why, the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator DanjumaGoje, had to come up with a Motion to rescind, reconsider and revise the source of funding contained in the original approval granted by the Senate.

“So, if you take a close look at the Senate’s Order paper of Wednesday, November 7, 2018, you will see that N121,122,525,050, which represents half of the entire supplementary budget, was sourced from 30 MDAs chosen by the Executive, while the other N121,122,525,050 was taken from the Service Wide Vote.

“As always, all Senators remain committed to ensuring that Nigeria has free, fair and credible general elections next year, and they will continue to collaborate with the Executive, members of the public and all other stakeholders to ensure that this happens.”

The Senate had on Wednesday rescinded its earlier decision to fund the N242.245 billion 2019 general elections budget from the Service Wide Votes.

Goje and 18 other Senators had at Senate plenary sponsored another motion entitled ‘Rescission and Reconsideration of the Senate Approval of Virement/Supplementary Budget for Independent National Electoral Commission and Security Agencies for the Conduct of the 2019 General Election to rescind Senate’s earlier decision on mode of funding the 2019 polls.

Goje, in moving the motion, drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that due to some obvious and imminent issues of national socio-economic importance, the earlier approved virement/supplementary request could not be implemented.

The Senate thereafter rescinded and reconsidered its October 16 approval of the request as contained in resolution (S/RS/027/04/8) in line with Order 53(6) of its Standing Order.

Order 53(6) of the Senate Standing Orders states that “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session except upon a substantive motion for rescission.”

The upper chamber of the National Assembly in approving N242.245 billion for INEC (N189.007bn) and five other agencies namely; Office of the National Security Adviser (N9.481bn); Department of State Security (N10.213bn); NSCDC (N3.573bn); Nigeria Police Force (N27.341bn) and Nigeria Immigration Service (N2.628bn) for the conduct of the 2019 general polls emphasised that the fund would be sourced from 2018 Appropriation of 30 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies ( MDAs) and Service Wide Vote (Special Intervention Programme).

While the 30 MDAs will fund the 2019 polls to the tune of N121.122 billion, the remaining N121.122 billion will be sourced from the Special Intervention Programme of the Service Wide Vote.

A breakdown of the MDAs funding include Power, Works and Housing- N25.52bn; Water Resources- N12.95bn; Agriculture and Rural Development- N11.05bn; Budget and National Planning-N8.84bn; Communication Technology-N828.50m; Defence-N2.63bn; Education-N10.23bn; Environment- N2.006bn; Federal Capital Territory Administration-N1.508bn; Foreign Affairs-N1.73bn; Health-N8.059bn; ICPC-N157.08m; Information and Culture-N1.88bn; Interior- N1.67bn and National Human Rights Commission-N170.43m.

Others are Justice- N557.93m; Labour and Employment-N2.72bn; Mines and Steel Development-N461.39m; Niger Delta Affairs- N1.19bn; Office of National Security Adviser-N1.12bn; Office of the Head of Service-N38.74m; Office of the SGF-N6.73bn; Petroleum Resources- N20.94m; Presidency- N1.24bn; Public Complaints Commission- NN48.17m; Science and Technology-N7.46bn; Industry, Trade and Investment-N7.08bn; Transportation-N2.28bn; Women Affairs-N319.69m and Youth and Sports Development-N522.76m.

Udoma, who spoke through his media aide, Akpamdem James, said if what the lawmakers did was what the President requested for, “then, it is okay.”

He added: “However, I know that the President specifically requested that they should vire money from the projects they inserted in the 2019 budget.”