Sequel to its meeting with the leaders of the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed optimism about the passage of its proposed N242 billion budget for the 2019 elections.
The chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu expressed the assurance while speaking with correspondents after the meeting with the national assembly leadership.
Yakubu noted that 2019 election was 191 days away and as such all hands needed to be on deck to ensure smooth elections.
He said “The most important thing to say is INEC was invited to meet with the National Assembly leadership on how the proposed budget for the 2019 elections can be speedily considered and appropriated by the National Assembly.
“We have been assured of speedy passage of the budget perhaps as early as next week, N242bn is the total amount proposed”
Speaking in a similar vein, the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, (PDP, FCT), said, “We agreed that if need be, we will resume considering the virement request and we are agreeing we will fix a date to discuss this budget and ensure passage.”
Earlier, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had promised that he, along with his colleagues, were prepared to do what it would take to ensure that the 2019 elections went on smoothly. He explained that the initial plan was for the leadership of the National Assembly to meet with the INEC chairman to discuss what the commission’s needs were and find ways of passing it.
He, however, said the invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services stalled the initial plan.
Saraki said, “Unfortunately, yesterday’s shutdown prevented us from meeting with INEC, as scheduled, to address funding concerns. We will continue to look into the matter.”
Before the meeting went behind closed doors, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said he would appreciate an explanation on why the INEC budget was brought to the National Assembly late.
The INEC Chairman had in his introductory remarks said “We are now more energised, more reassured that our plans for the 2019 general elections are absolutely in progress. We have from today exactly 191 days to the opening of polling units by 8 am on Saturday, February 16, 2019.
“There are activities we have to undertake for a minimum of six months to the Election Day and six months to Election Day kick-start from the 15th of August. It means we have eight days to the commencement of these activities.
“We are confident that all the grey areas will be ironed out and as far as INEC is concerned, our own component of the cost of 2019 elections will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly” he said.