2019 election budget: NASS meeting ends in stalemate

Attempts by the National Assembly joint committee on INEC to resolve conflicting figures in the 2019 election budget, was deadlocked on Thursday.
To this end, the joint committee has summoned the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmud Yakubu to appear before it on Friday to give further clarification on the N189 billion 2019 General Election budget.
The committee comprises the joint panels on INEC from both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Chairman of the joint committee, Suleiman Nazif, said the INEC chairman is expected to appear before the joint committee by 11am.
It would be recalled that at a budget defence session on Wednesday, the Senate Committee on INEC had queried the conflicting figures presented by the Commission and President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2019 elections budget.
While Yakubu had told the joint committee that the sum N189 billion should be approved in one fell swoop, Buhari on his letter dated July 17, 2018 had asked lawmakers to approve the amount in two tranches: N143,512,529,455 in 2018 and the balance of N45,695,015,438 for 2019.
Although the one-hour meeting was held behind closed doors, lawmakers were heard raising their voices at each other over whether to adopt the President’s proposal or Yakubu’s.
It was gathered that while a PDP senator from Yobe State, Mohammed Hassan wanted the release in two tranches, another legislator, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta State), called for the adoption of Mahmud’s proposal.
But speaking to journalists after the session, chairman of the joint committee, Suleiman Nazif, said: “As we are all aware, yesterday (Wednesday) we invited the Chairman of INEC who was in the National Assembly who addressed the House of Representatives as well as the Senate. And today (Thursday) our duty and responsibility was to try to harmonise what transpired yesterday between both houses and ensure that we cross the t’s and dot the i’s.
“The whole meeting was called consequent upon the letter of the President requesting for supplementary and virement for the General Elections of 2019.
“We have done what we needed to have done. And we have realised that there are some differences. In view of that, it is the opinion of members of this joint committee that we invite the chairman of INEC for further clarifications on Friday at 11am.
“And from there, this committee will make a press statement and we will inform Nigerians of our position.”
On her part, Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, Aisha Dukku, said the INEC chairman is expected to appear before the committee to clear grey areas concerning the mode of approval.

 

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja

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