The National Assembly Joint Committee after a 30-minute closed-door meeting in Senate Committee Room 117 on Monday, approved N143 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in line with the proposal of President Buhari for the funding of the 2019 general elections.
The National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters Chairman Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North) who addressed newsmen after the meeting, said the committee which had met four rimes within two weeks after exhaustive deliberations okayed N143 billion as election funds for the electoral body.
According to Senator Nazif “INEC is expected to re-present the N143bn as requested by Mr. President. INEC has an opportunity to reprioritise and appear before the Committee tomorrow by 1pm.”
While some members of the panel suggested that the entire N189 billion be approved as requested by INEC, others were of the opinion that approving the entire amount will be going against the president’s request.
“The joint committee sat and has come up with the resolution to adopt the N143 billion presented by Mr. President.
“It is also the wish of this committee that INEC then present their budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President.
“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow. This committee will be reconvening tomorrow by 1pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC,” Senator Nazif said.
Though he did not say when the other N45 billion will be approved for the electoral commission, however it is expected that the electoral body will review the budget earlier presented and present it before the committee on Tuesday.
The INEC boss had earlier given several reasons for the increase in the budget after the lawmakers queried the N62 billion increase in the budget as against the 2015 election budget. He listed increase in number of political parties, increase in voter population and registered voters, high cost of logistics, exchange rates, and increase in number of constituencies as reasons for the increase in the proposed budget for 2019 election. The electoral body had in 2015 requested for N120 billion for the general election.