2019: I need N242bn to conduct free-fair election – Buhari

Nigerians are to cough out a whopping N242 billion for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave out the figure on Tuesday in a letter he wrote to the Senate seeking its approval of the money.
The lion share of the request was allocated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Other beneficiaries are the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Department of the State Services (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies.
In the letter read on the floor of the Upper Chamber by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, he said that of the N242.445 billion to fund the 2019 general elections, the sum of N164.104 billion would be sourced through virement in the 2018 budget, while the balance of N78.340 billion would be provided for in the 2019 budget.
A breakdown of the costs showed that while INEC was allocated N189.207 billion, the NSA gets N4.281 billion, the DSS N12.213 billion, the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC), N3.573 billion, NPF N30.541 billion, while the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), would get N2.62 8 billion.
Buhari said: “As you are aware, the 2019 general elections are scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair elections, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations.
“INEC and the security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests. These have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation. The aggregate cost of the elections is estimated at N242,445,322,600.
“However, in the light of prevailing fiscal constraints, I am proposing that the sum of N164,104,792,065 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget. I propose that the balance of N78,340,530,535 mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until the election proper, be provided in their 2019 budget,” he said.
Similarly the President told the lawmakers that he would not propose a further increase to the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework to fund critical items.
Consequently, Buhari said that N228.854 billion should be removed from the N578.,319 billion inserted by the National Assembly (NASS) to execute a total of 1,403 projects in the 2018 budges.
He said: “You will also recall that when I signed the 2018 Appropriation Act, I indicated the need to request the reinstatement of certain cuts made to certain critical projects provided in the original Executive Bill. I am therefore submitting for your consideration the reinstatement of the most critical of such cuts totalling N64,749,216,150.
“The total amount required to be provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 general elections and to restore the identified critical projects to the amount earlier proposed is therefore N228,854,008,215. Implementing a budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and, therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose a further increase to the size of the 2018 Expenditure Framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items.
“Accordingly, I invite the Distinguished Senate to consider, in the national interest, reallocating some of the funds appropriated for the new projects which were inserted into the 2018 budget proposal totalling N578,319,951,904 to cover the sum of N228,854,008,215 required as noted above”.
Meanwhile, indications emerged that the President’s incursion into the 2018 Appropriation Act as it affects the N578 billion meant for the choice projects of the lawmakers may not go down with them as some Senators kicked against the diversion or virement of part of the fund to his considered critical projects.
However, the lawmakers will decide on Buhari’s proposal at another legislative day when the letter comes up for debate on the floor of the Senate.

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