*Asks Buhari to source funds from security votes
By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate has passed N189billion budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the 2019 general elections.
It however disagreed with President Muhammadu Buhari on the sources of funding the elections.
While the lawmakers insisted that money should be sourced from the security votes of the President, Buhari in a letter to the National Assembly requested that the money be drawn from the N500 billion inserted into the 2018 budget by the legislature for constituency projects.
Buhari had in July this year sent a letter to the National Assembly requesting that the 2018 budget be approved in two tranches of N143billion and N45 billion, totalling N189 billion for INEC.
The President said that the N143billion should be approved this year and the balance of N45billion approved in 2019.
When National Assembly went on break, the President sent another request letter on Wednesday to the lawmakers, seeking their approval of the total sum of N189 billion for the election.
In the first letter dated July 11, President Buhari had requested that the election budget be taken from the N500 billion inserted into the 2018 budget by the lawmakers.
But, debating the report submitted by the Senate Committee on Appropriation, the upper chamber of the National Assembly approved that the N189 billion be sought from the security votes of the President.
In the report subtitled: “Source of fund”, the Appropriation Committee recommended that “the sum of N189billion requested for the funding of the 2019 general elections 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 explained that the total request of Buhari for the election in his two letters is N242billion.
The lawmakers said that why N189 billion is for INEC to conduct the elections, the balance is for the security agencies for the conduct of the elections.
A breakdown of the balance showed that the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) is allocated N4.281billion, the Department of State Services (DSS), N12.213billion, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), N3.573billion, Nigerian Police Force, N30.541billion
At yesterday meeting of the National Assembly Joint Committees on Appropriation, the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje asked the heads of the agencies concerned to liaise with their supervising committees comprising: security and intelligence of House and Senate, Police Committee of House and Senate, interior Committee of House and Senate.