Jude Johnson with Agency report
The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the Senate’s approval of N242.45 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its security agencies to enable them successfully conduct the 2019 general elections.
The letter, which was read by Saraki at plenary on Tuesday, indicated that Buhari requested that out of the needed figure, N164.10 billion should be provided through virement or supplementation of 2018 Budget
Part of the funds, according to the President’s request, will also be given to the Department of State Service and other security agencies for the same purpose.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, dated July 11 and personally signed by Buhari.
It also requested that the balance of N78.34 billion, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided for in the 2019 budget.
The Nigeria Police Force got a proposal of N30.5 billion while N2.6 billion was earmarked for Nigeria Immigration Service.
Specifically, the president requested that N164.10 billion of total funds proposed for the elections should be funded from the N578.31 billion inserted in the 2018 Budget by the National Assembly.
Also to be funded from the “inserted funds’’, he stated, was additional N64.75 billion for reinstatement of critical project cuts in 2018 budget, bringing total figure to get from the “inserted funds’’ to N228.85 billion.
The letter stated that the request to deduct N228.85 billion from the N578.31 billion was in view of fiscal constraint, which would not allow for over-burdening of the 2018 budget.
“You will also recall that when I signed the 2018 Appropriation Act, I indicated the need to request the reinstatement of certain cuts made to certain critical projects provided in the original Executive Bill.
“I am therefore submitting for your consideration the reinstatement of the most critical of such cuts totalling N64, 749, 216, 150.
“The total amount required to be provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 general elections and to restore the identified critical projects to the amount earlier proposed is therefore N228, 854, 008, 215.
“Implementing budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose further increase to the 2018 Expenditure Framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items.
“Accordingly, I urge the Distinguished Senate to consider, in national interest, relocating some of the funds appropriated for new projects inserted into 2018 Budget totalling N578,319,951,904 to cover the N228, 854, 008, 215 required as indicated.
“While hoping that this request will receive the expeditious consideration of the Distinguished Senate, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration,” the letter stated.
Below is Mr Buhari’s letter:
Request for virement and supplementary 2018 budget.
As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair election, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations.
The President had in June disclosed that he was going to send a supplementary budget after raising concerns about some of the changes made by lawmakers in the 2018 budget.
He said that the supplementary/ amendment budget will solve some critical issues which he hopes “the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider.”
Some of the issues raised by the President include the reduction of allocation for the provision of security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country by N3billion at a time when securing the students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern for the government.
According to the President, he signed the bill into law in order not to further slow down the pace of Nigeria’s economic recovery.
On June 20, 2018, President Buhari, signed the 2018 budget but criticised the National Assembly for reducing allocations for some projects and including thousands of projects into the budget without consultation with the Executive.
He said, “The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation”.