Senators, including Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, during plenary session on Thursday disagreed on whether to approve in part or in whole Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) budget for the 2019 general elections.
TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports Senate committee on appropriations and finance on INEC had approved, waiting for Senate final approval, a total sum of N189,207,544,893 for the conduct of the 2019 general election as proposed.
The disagreement was on whether the Senate should approve finally the N189 million INEC budget or wait until the committee had finalized reports on the other component of the budget, the security agency budget.
The other component of the budget, the security agency budget is the N242 billion President Muhammadu Buhari requested to be vired in the 2018 budget also for conduct of the 2019 general elections.
“Now that the issue of INEC is settled, I suggest that both reports be consolidated into one report so we can send it as a single report to the president,” Senator Ekweremadu submitted after Senator Goje Danjuma presented report on the N189 million INEC budget.
The Senate committee had invited the security agencies such as the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mungono, Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, Director General of Department of State Services etc, today by 12 to defend their budgets, the other component.
Senator Barau Jibrin stated that, “INEC has already complained that there has been a delay in receiving their required funding. This matter requires a high level of urgency. We should approve the INEC budget immediately”.
“Let us treat the INEC budget and the security agency budget separately even though they were brought in together” Senator Adamu Aliero requested, while Senator Kabiru Gaya reemphasized by saying “Let us not wait for other agencies’ budgets to be ready before we pass this bill. Let us pass the INEC bill immediately”.
Also reacting was Senator Mohammed Hassan, who said, “I believe we should approve the INEC budget. As a member of the Committee, I know we worked very hard to arrive at these figures you see here today and I understand it is imperative that we approve this”.
Senator Saraki thanked Senator Goje and members of his committee on appropriation and finance, before dismissing them to meet with security agencies, while plenary continued.