By Cecilia Ijuo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has adjusted its budget for 2019 elections from N189 billion to N143 billion in compliance with directive from the National Assembly.
The Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC, Sen. Suleiman Nazif, made this known to newsmen after a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, saying that INEC had effected the changes.
He said that the commission submitted a new budget reflecting N143 billion as originally requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nazif disclosed that a sub-committee had been set up to look at the proposal and to point out any area of infraction to the committee, adding that the committee was mandated to complete its assignment on Aug. 29.
The National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC had on Monday, recommended N143 billion for approval for the commission’s preparation ahead of the 2019 general elections.
This is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s request on July 11 when he sought the legislators’ approval of N242 billion for the elections.
Specifically, he said that N164.10 billion of the funds was urgently needed to enable INEC to commence preparations for the elections, while the balance of N78.34 billon would be provided for in 2019 Budget.
The President had in his letter of request explained that the urgently needed N164 billion would be allocated as follows: INEC, N143.51 billion; Office of National Security Adviser, N3.86 billion and Department of State Services (DSS), N2.90 billion.
Others are Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, N1.85 billion; Nigeria Police Force, N11.46 billion and Nigeria Immigration Service, N530.1million.
The Senate Committee on INEC had on Aug. 16, queried the commission for presenting a budgetary proposal of N189 billion for the elections, saying it was at variance with the president’s for the polls.
This was because, though Buhari had in his letter requested for N189 billion for the 2019 elections, he said that N143 billion was urgently needed by INEC to begin preparations for the polls.
The money is expected to be vired from the 2018 Budget, especially from the N587 billion, which the president said was inserted by the lawmakers into the budget, raising it from N8.6 trillion to 9.12 trillion.