The National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved N143 billion for INEC for the 2019 general election as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari in July.
The committee reached this resolution after over a week of deliberation on the matter.
Mr Buhari, in his letter to the Senate, requested that N189.2 billion be released to INEC. He asked that N143.5 billion be released this year and N45.6 billion be released in 2019.
However, the chairman of the electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, in his presentation, demanded for the entire N189.2 billion.
The commission’s request caused members of the committee to again deliberate on whether to grant INEC’s request or that of the president.
The committee had failed to harmonise the divergent positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives last week, necessitating an adjournment for more consultations to be made.
While some members of the panel suggested that the entire N189 billion be approved as requested by INEC, others were of the opinion that approving the entire amount will be going against the president’s request.
Majority of the members including the chairman of the committee, Suleiman Nazif, a senator, had on August 17, moved that the committee accept INEC requests and refer it to the committee on appropriation to determine how the funding will be made.
On Monday, the committee chairman announced that N143 billion will be approved for INEC, after an executive session which lasted for about 40 minutes.
He said the approval was in line with the president’s request.
“The joint committee sat and has come up with the resolution to adopt the N143 billion presented by Mr. President.
“It is also the wish of this committee that INEC then present their budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President.
“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow. This committee will be reconvening tomorrow by 1pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC,” he said.
He however, did not say when the other N45 billion will be approved for the electoral commission.
The election commission is expected to review the budget earlier presented and present it before the committee on Tuesday.
The INEC boss had earlier given several reasons for the increase in the budget after the lawmakers queried the N62 billion increase in the budget as against the 2015 election budget.
He listed increase in number of political parties, increase in voter population and registered voters, high cost of logistics, exchange rates, and increase in number of constituencies as reasons for the increase in the proposed budget for 2019 election.
INEC had in 2015 requested for N120 billion for the general election.