By Cecilia Ijuo
The National Assembly is unlikely to reconvene on Tuesday to consider the N243 billion virement for the 2019 General Elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the National Assembly is unlikely to reconvene because as at the time of filing this report, there has been no official communication about the plan from the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Omolori.
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had on Aug. 8 said the commission had been assured by the National Assembly leadership that the 2019 General Elections Budget of N242 billion may be considered for passage this week.
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, also expressed the National Assembly’s commitment to assisting the commission towards the success of the elections.
Saraki had on July 17, read President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for 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 be given to the Department of State Services and other security agencies for the same purpose.
The request was contained in a letter dated July 11 and personally signed by Buhari.
The letter, which was read by Saraki at plenary, 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.
The Senate however proceeded on its annual vacation without considering the budget on 24 July.
Meanwhile, Section 12 of the Senate Standing Rule 2015(as amended) states in part, that for the senate to reconvene on a date other than the adjourned date, the leaders of the political Parties in the Senate, must present the matter to the President of the Senate.
It further notes that the matter must be in public interest to make the Senate meet on an earlier or a later date or time than that one which it stands adjourned.
The President of the Senate may thereafter, give notice accordingly, and the Senate shall meet on the date and at the time stated in the notice.