Presidency faults National Assembly panel on polls budget funding
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, yesterday said the National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the final say on source of funds for the 2019 general elections.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria yesterday in Abuja in reaction to the August 30 recommendation by the panel asking that the N143 billion election budget be funded from Service Wide Votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent).
Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, had said that the recommendation was to ease the consideration and avoid increasing the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework.
But, Enang said the recommendation could not be final, as the whole process would have to be approved by all the lawmakers at plenary.
He said: “The call is inquorate because it can only be complete if it is presented to the plenary.
“When the committee was considering it, I asked if there is the budget of the Office of the National Security Adviser, DSS, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service and others.
“Is your committee going to consider these budgets? They said no, that those other ones would be considered by other committees.
“If they are not considering the budgets of other agencies, the question of where to source the money has not even arisen.
“Until each of the other committees considers the budget of these other agencies and recommend it to the House and the chamber sits to consider it, only then will the question or otherwise arise.”
The presidential aide noted that the National Assembly acted in error to have asked the panel to sit when the source of funding for the general budget for the election had not been determined.
“What should have been done first was to source for money before it could be appropriated by the committee.
Enang went on: “It should have been the Appropriation Committee and Finance Committee sitting and either amend this or decide if we will take money from somewhere else.
“The president has stated that he does not want to increase the size of the budget because the piece of legislation already is a deficit budget and a great part of it is going to be funded from borrowing.
“He is saying, look at the money within the budget you have done thus far and I am suggesting that you take it from this head.
“You are not bound to take it only from that head. You can take from that head and from any other thing which you may have forgotten but do not reduce the project of the executive.”