Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 9 August 2018 | 1,615 times
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC Mahmood Yakubu has assured that it is most likely that the election budget would be passed in one week from now.
He said this after the meeting which INEC management held with the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday on the pending issue of the 2019 election budget.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, led the leadership meeting at the New Senate Wing, Room 301, on Wednesday.
The meeting which took place shortly after Saraki addressed a world press conference at the National Assembly Foyer, saw the leadership of the two chambers holding a closed session with the management of INEC.
Saraki, who spoke briefly before the closed session, said that the National Assembly was ready to support the conduct of free and fair election, adding that the nation’s elections have been improving progressively since 2011.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill which had been sent for his assent.
He, however, said that National Assembly should not be blackmailed over Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC budget proposal for 2019 election.
The Senate President alongside Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara before the closed session with INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu queried why the INEC request came when the lawmakers were to embark on annual recess.
Before the meeting entered closed-door session, Saraki promised that the National Assembly would do everything within its powers to support the 2019 election.
The meeting which was held behind closed doors at the Senate wing of the National Assembly was attended by the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, his Deputy, Lasun Yusuff, and other principal officers from the both Chambers as well as INEC officials led by its Chairman, Prof. Yakubu.
The Senate President also informed the INEC delegation that, “we are committed more than ever that we have election in 2019. An election that is credible” adding that, “We are ready to ensure that you have what you need.”
On his part, INEC chairman said that, ” we are more re-energised as far as 2019 election is concern”, noting that, “This is the first time in the history of the country that budget for election is subjected to thorough approval of National Assembly”.
After the meeting, Yakubu told newsmen that the National Assembly leaders have assured him that the budget would be treated “expeditiously”
According to him, the passage could be done as early as next week, adding that the leaders were impressed by the Defence of the budget put up by INEC.
Yakubu said: "The most important thing to say was INEC was invited to meet the NASS leadership on how the proposed budget for the 2019 elections can be speedily considered and appropriated by NASS. Now, we have been assured of speedy passage of the budget perhaps as early as next week. N242 billion is the total amount proposed." B
Senator Phillip ADUDA, who was mandated by the leadership of the National Assembly to brief newsmen after the meeting also agreed with The INEC Chairman, saying that the lawmakers may reconvene soon to consider the budget.
He said: “If need be, we will resume to consider request of the virement and we are agreeing we will fix date to discuss the budget issue to ensure its passage.”
In his initial remarks before the closed session, INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu said he was happy that the lawmakers have invited him for the meeting.
He said: “We are now more energized, more reassured that our plans for the 2019 general elections are absolutely in progress. We have from today exactly 191 days to the opening of polling units by 8 am on Saturday, February 2019.
“There are activities we have to undertake for a minimum of six months to the election day and six months to election day kick-start from the 15th of August. It means we have eight days before the commencement of these activities.
“We are confident that all the grey areas will be ironed out and as far as INEC is concerned our own component of the cost of 2019 elections will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly.
“Your Excellency, I am sure you are aware this is the very first time in the history of our elections that the budget for elections in Nigeria is subjected to approval by the National Assembly in this way.”
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