Three months to the 2019 General Elections, Nigeria is still battling with the funds to be used in conducting the exercise.
Although both chambers of the National Assembly approved the Virement/ Supplementary budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Security agencies for the INEC budget on October 17, 2018, lawmakers rescinded their approval on Wednesday and changed the sources of funding the poll.
In a motion moved by Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe) and and co-sponsored by 18 others, the upper legislative chamber changed the source of funding the budget from solely Service Wide Vote and deducted across 30 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Specifically, the Senate resolved that 50 percent of the N242 billion election budget (representing N121 billion) be deducted from Service Wide Vote while the other 50 percent be slashed from the affected MDAs.
Consequently, the Ministry of Power, Housing and Works was the biggest casualty as it lost a whooping N25.5 billion of its N714.6 billion 2018 budget to election budget. The ministry is now left with N689.1 billion.
Other affected federal ministries are: Water Resources which is to forfeit N12.9 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development N11.05 billion; Education N10.2 billion, Science and Technology N7.4 billion, Trade and Investment N7.08 billion among others.
Deduction from the Education Ministry is coming at a time Nigerian university lecturers on the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are currently on indefinite strike over government’s poor funding of public universities.
While the sole recommendation of the Goje-led Committee was unanimously adopted, an additional prayer was adopted to allow Senate Committee on Police Affairs investigate how the Nigeria Police Force has utilised previous allocation for election purposes in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections.
The resolution was sequel to a motion moved by Dino Melaye’s query of allocation of N27.3 billion to the Police for the purpose of the 2019 polls.
Melaye had argued that such collosal amount of money is not needed by the the Police that had 2018 budgetary allocation.
Goje said Melaye’s complaint was belated after both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the 2019 election budget.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki reframed Melaye’s concerns by suggesting that the Police committee be mandated to look into utilisation of previous allocation to the Police for election monitoring.
The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.