By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu with agency report
After ten days of recess for the just celebrated Eid- el – Kabir , the National Assembly joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), will be meeting today amidst growing anxiety on which of the budgets for the 2019 general elections it will approve .
The committee had despite meeting for three consecutive days penultimate week, announced to Nigerians through a statement issued by its Chairman, Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Bauchi North) that it will meet today to decide on which of the two budget proposals to be approved between the N143bn President Muhammadu Buhari requested for in a letter forwarded to NASS last month and the N189billion INEC is requested.
President Buhari in the letter had explained to the National Assembly that out of the N189billion INEC budgeted for the conduct of 2019 general elections, N143bn should be appropriated for it this year through virement from the N578bn additional votes the federal lawmakers inserted into the budget while the balance of N45.6bn would be captured for INEC in the 2019 budget.
But the electoral body at two different appearances before the committee penultimate week, insisted that the entire N189billion should be approved for it at once by the National Assembly for smooth conduct of the 2019 general elections, leading to divisions among the lawmakers across party lines on which of the requests to be approved.
In a personally signed statement penultimate Saturday on today’s meeting, the Committee Chairman said: “Sequel to the ongoing consideration of the Independent National Electoral Commission, 2019 General Election Budget by the joint committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, the general public is hereby informed that work on the Budget is in advanced stage and in line with mandate issued to the joint committee by the leadership of the National Assembly.
“Equally the Joint Committee deliberated on all key attributes of the Budget while taking into cognisance the imperative urgency for the Budget to be ready in time for the 2019 General Election hence, necessitating sacrifice and selflessness from our Distinguished and Honourable Members.
“Furthermore, it is imperative to state here explicitly that, after audacious sessions with all critical stakeholders the joint Committee dissolved into executive structure and agreed to resume on 27th August, 2018, (After Sallah) to consider the Harmonized version of the Budget Report diligently.