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National Assembly approves N143 billion for 2019 general election

THE legislative arm of government has approved the sum of N143 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 general election, as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

A joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives gave the approval on Monday after deliberations that had lasted for over one week.

President Buhari had requested the National Assembly to approve the release of N189.2 billion to INEC, but added, in his letter dated July 17, 2018, that the release should be done in two tranches of N143.5 billion and N45.6 billion in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

However, making his presentation before the lawmakers, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, asked that the entire N189 billion be released to the commission at once.

National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved N143 billion for INEC for the 2019 general election as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari in July.

But after arguments for and against Yakubu’s request, the joint committee resolved to deal with the issue according to the exact requests made by the President in his letter, while advising INEC to priorities procurement.

“The joint committee sat and has come up with the resolution to adopt the N143 billion presented by Mr. President,” said Suleiman Nazif, Chairman of the joint committee.

“It is also the wish of this committee that INEC then presents their budget of N143 billion as requested by Mr. President.

“Therefore, INEC has an opportunity to prioritise and this committee is ready to receive them tomorrow. This committee will be reconvening tomorrow at 1 pm so that we can consider the presentation by INEC.”

In one of his presentations during the consideration of the budget, Yakubu explained to the lawmakers why the 2019 election budget was higher than that of 2016 by over N60 billion. He said there has been an increase in the number of political parties taking part in the election, as well as an increase in the number of registered voters.

According to the new party register, 91 political parties will feature in the 2019 general elections.

Also, a high cost of logistics, increase in the foreign exchange rates and an increase in the number of constituencies were also listed as reasons for the increase.

In 2015, INEC requested for N120 billion to organize the general election, at which time one dollar was not up to N199 at the official exchange rate. The dollar currently exchanges officially at N305, and between N355 and N360 at the parallel market.

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