By Umar Muhammad Puma and Christiana Ekpan
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has assured Nigerians that the 2019 general elections is not under any threat, as there is already provision to take care of such contingencies that may arise in the Service Wide Votes.
The Speaker said, while speaking with journalists at the National Assembly, that there is about three hundred billion naira service wide votes provision in the 2018 budget that can be used to service election funding.
He reaffirmed that as custodians of the mandate of the Nigerian people, the House of Representatives considers issues affecting Nigerians as top priority, adding that all pending matters, Electoral Act inclusive, would be given accelerated attention.
Speaker Dogara said, “You see we are servants of the people by our calling as Representatives of Nigerians; and we don’t have the right to put our interests forward before the interests of the people. We are here to serve public good. These issues are outstanding, and it was never going to be threatened in any way as was widely perceived, because we have a provision in the budget for service-wide votes, about three hundred billion and whatever was the emergency would have been met from that service-wide fund that we have allocated in the budget.
“As we are back, we have set ourselves to accomplish what is there in the interest of the people. Even if it means in a day or two we will accomplish that, even if it means handling it as we did for the ease of doing business bills. There were times that within a week we went through the first, second and third reading and passed it into law just because we saw the need for us to expand the economic space and improve citizen participation and wealth creation and the expansion of our economy, especially during these days of economic recession.
“So nothing is impossible and I can assure you that as soon as we get the reports submitted from the various committees hopefully within the week, in no time, we should be able to deal with them.
“Whether it is the Electoral Act or the funding for elections and the appropriate funds for INEC is approved, and I can assure you that in no time, even if it is to be done within a day, we are committed to doing it because the only thing that guarantees democracy is free, fair and transparent elections, and we do not joke with it as politicians because we are aware that there are times when you will run into occasions when the will of the people in the process of transmitting their consent into government positions are truncated.
“It will not serve the interest of democracy, so whatever is needed, apart from even these two issues that we have spoken of, we are committed to passing and dealing with them in no time to ensure that we have a very credible, fair and transparent election in 2019.”