By Harrison Arubu
The Senate on Thursday passed the sum of N234 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2018 budget.
The figure comprises the N189 billion requested by INEC for the conduct the 2019 general election, and N45 billion provided for the commission under statutory transfer.
The lawmakers approved that the N189 billion be vired from both recurrent and capital components of the Special Intervention Programme captured in the Service Wide Vote of the 2018 Appropriation Act.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the passage of the budget followed the presentation of the report of the Committee on Appropriation chaired by Sen. Danjuma Goje.
Goje said that the committee considered President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for N242 billion for INEC and security agencies to conduct the election.
He said the executive allocated N143 billion for INEC from virement in the 2018 budget without specifying the source of the virement.
The committee, according to him, recommended that the money be vied from the Special Intervention Programme under the Service Wide Vote of the 2018 Appropriation Act.
Goje said in making the recommendation, the committee took into account report of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on INEC which met with the commission during the just-ended National Assembly recess.
He said the final report that would cover the security agencies’ components of the N242 billion election’s budget would be presented in the next legislative day.
Commenting on the report, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, observed that Buhari’s letter to the Senate on election funding came holistically, comprising the requests of INEC and the security agencies.
“The issue of INEC has been settled, and we are told that the Committee on Appropriation will be meeting with the security agencies this afternoon.
“This being an interim report, I would like to suggest this report and the report on the request of the security agencies be consolidated into one report, more so when it came as a single report from the president.
“This is important so that we have a single report next week and be able to pass it as a single request, because if we separate it now it will cause confusion.’’
However, other senators, including Kabiru Gaya, Ahmed Lawan and Ibrahim Gobir, countered Ekweremadu and called for immediate passage of the INEC budget due to its urgency.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, thereafter put the committee’s recommendations to a voice vote and it was approved by the lawmakers.