The 2019 Presidential Election is around the corner, and all political prospective candidates are almost done tying up their lose ends in preparation. While that is happening, the Government will in turn be ready.
President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the Senate’s approval of N242.45 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission to enable it to commence preparations for 2019 general elections.
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.
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.
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 sum of N189.21 billion was earmarked for INEC, N4.3 billion for Office of the Security Adviser, N12.21 billion for DSS and N3.6 billion for Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
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.