NASS rejects virement from N578bn constituency projects fund

The stage appears set for another round of face-off between the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari, over the N143billion budget the legislature approved for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of 2019 general elections.
The lawmakers are recommending the virement of the N143billion from the N943.573billion service wide votes provisions in the 2018 Budget, as against the virement from N578billion special votes the lawmakers allegedly inserted into the N9.2trillion Budget.
President Buhari, had in a virement seeking letter forwarded to both chambers of the National Assembly last month, requested them to vire N228billion from the N578billion special votes for INEC and the security agencies.
In the request, the President explained to the lawmakers that out of the N228billion, N164billion would be for 2019 elections budget from which N143billion should be appropriated for INEC this year, while the balance of N64billion would be used for execution of some critical projects.
But at its final approval of the N143billion budget for the electoral body yesterday, the National Assembly joint committee on INEC declared that the money should be vired from N943. 573 billion service wide votes under the Special Intervention Programme proposed by the executive, and not from N578billion special votes meant for the constituency projects.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Bauchi North) said: “The committee is suggesting to the leadership of the National Assembly and the Committee on Appropriation to source the funding of this Budget through virement from Other Service-wide votes under the Special Intervention Programme (Recurrent), to ease consideration and avoid increase in the size of the 2018 expenditure frame work.” Nazif, who made the disclosure in the presence of other committee members, including the cochair, Hon Aisha Dukku (APC Gombe), also declared that a total sum of N200, 272, 500.00 million was also reduced from the N143.512billion election budget proposal.
According to him, the reduced figures were arrived at from N50million cut from item 64 of the INEC budget proposal, N71million from item 74, N50million from item 125 and N29million from item 167.
“Subsequently, after extensive deliberations the Committee reviewed the INEC Budget to 143.312.256.955.13; signifying a reduction Of N200, 272,500.00.
These reductions cover items Nos 64. 74. 125 and 167 respectively,” the committee also explained.

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