- The federal lawmakers have queried discrepancies in the figures that President Buhari presented to the chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu
- The Senate committee chaired by Nazif Suleiman said a special meeting of the committee would hold on Wednesday, August 15, to address the discrepancies in the budget proposal
- Nazif, however, noted that the committee will remain focused and do everything in the best interest of Nigerians
The Nigeria Senate has expressed concern over alleged discrepancies in the 2019 elections budget figures presented by President Buhari and chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.
Guardian reported that the Senate committee on INEC made the observations during its meeting with the commission at the National Assembly on Wednesday, August 15.
While the INEC chairman presented a budget of N189,207,544,893.13 for the polls, Buhari had in July 17, 2018, tabled N143,512,529,455.00. Consequently, the committee led by Senator Suleiman Nazif declared it would hold a special meeting to resolve the issue.
READ ALSO: Ex-PDP senator defects to APC
Nazif said: “It is important for us to note that there are some observations that were raised by distinguished senators in the course of this budget defence, which are very germane. These observations are:
“The president sent to the National Assembly a supplementary (budget) of N143 billion (for 2018). But what we have here presented by you is N189 billion. So, we will have an opportunity by tomorrow (Thursday) to sit down once again to see how we can reconcile and come up with one formidable budget.
“There was also an observation that the format being presented for this budget would have to be done again because there is the need for us to present it to the appropriation committee.
“I believe the meeting for tomorrow will give us another opportunity to sit down and discuss. And then we will know how to go about bringing it in such a format that will be accepted by the appropriations committee where the recurrent and capital expenditure will be clearly spelt out.
“This Senate committee on INEC will continuously remain very focused and we will continue to do what is in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“I want to assure everyone of us here that all this political brouhaha has been brought to an end. For those who are insisting that the National Assembly is not open, the National Assembly is now open with respect to the Committee on INEC. So, we are here today, tomorrow and next. And we will try to see how we can fast-track things and ensure we do what is right.”
Explaining why the cost of conducting the 2019 election would be higher than that of 2015, Yakubu said: “I wish to draw the attention of this committee to the fact that there is a difference of N69 billion in the budgets of 2015 and 2019. In 2015, we had 70 million registered voters. As of last week Saturday, we now have over 80 million.
“All major activities are pegged against the total number of voters. In 2015, we had only 42 political parties. We now have 91 registered political parties eligible to take part in the 2019 general elections.
“The cost of logistics is also different in 2019 as opposed to 2015, because the pump price of petrol in 2015, is different from that of 2019.
“This will also have an impact. With the increase of voters, we will have to increase the number of voting points. And with the increase of voting points, we will also have an increase in ad-hoc staff.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had reported that President Buhari informed the National Assembly that the 2019 elections will cost N242.4 billion
The president disclosed this in a letter to the Senate which was read on the floor during plenary session.
The president in the letter explained that implementing a budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and therefore does not consider it expedient to increase the 2018 budget to accommodate the funds needed for the 2019 general elections.
Street Gist: Nigerians Blow Hot as President Buhari Signs 2018 Budget in June on NAIJ.com TV: