By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate yesterday reversed its earlier decision that N242 billion be removed from Service Wide votes for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies, and vired N35.5 billion from power and education votes for purposes of conducting the 2019 elections.
Of the N35.5 billion, N25.5 billion was vired from the N714.668 billion allocations to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, while N10 billion was taken from the Education Ministry’s N651.226 billion in the 2019 budget to make up the N242 billion budget for the election.
Adopting a new report submitted by the Committee on Appropriations by its Chairman, Senator Danjuma Goje and 18 others, the Upper Chamber said only N121.2 billion would now be taken from the Service Wide Votes, while the balance of N121 billion will be taken from 30 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
In his presentation, Senator Goje said the earlier virement of N242bn for the elections budget entirely from service wide votes ( Special Intervention Programme ) should be rescinded and approved new recommended sources.
Other affected MDAs are Federal Ministry of Water Resources, N12.954bn vired from its N155.149bn 2018 budget; Federal Ministry of Agriculture, N11billion vired from its N203bn 2018 budget .
Others include Ministry of Budget and National Planning, N8.845bn; Ministry of Defence, N2.636bn; Foreign Affairs, N1.737bn; and Federal Ministry of Health, N8.059bn.
Also affected in the virements are Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N6.734bn; Office of the National Security Adviser, N1.120bn; Ministry of Labour and Employment, N2.727bn; Information and Culture, N1.884bn; Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N1.199bn; Science and Technology, N7.466bn; Industry, Trade and Investment, N7.085bn.
The committee in the report, however, retained the spread of the N242bn virement votes for conduct of the 2019 general elections across the six affected agencies as earlier approved by both chambers of the National Assembly, with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, getting NN189 billion; the Nigeria Police Force, N27.3bn; and Office of National Security Adviser, N9.481bn.
Others are the Department of State Services, DSS, N10.213bn; the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, N3.573bn; and the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, N2.628bn, totally, N242.245, 050,100bn.
In his presentation, Senator Goje said: “Recall the approval of the virement/supplementary budget for INEC and security agencies for the conduct of the 2019 general elections in the sum of N242, 245, 050,100 only, which is to be funded from the Service Wide Votes on October 16, 2018-Senate Resolution (S/RS/027/04/8);
“Senate is aware that because of some obvious and imminent issues of national socio- economic importance, the virement/supplementary request cannot be implemented as earlier approved.
“Accordingly resolves to: Rescind and reconsider its approval of the request as contained in resolution (S/RS/027/04/8) in line with Order 53(6) of its Standing Order; and Approve the sum of N242,245,050,100 only.”
While the sole recommendation of the Goje led Committee was unanimously carried, an additional prayer was adopted to allow Senate Committee on Police Affairs investigate how the Nigeria Police Force has utilised previous allocation for election purposes in the last two general elections.
The second resolution was consequent upon Senator Dino Melaye’s query of allocation of N27, 341,317,433 to the Police for the purpose of the 2019 polls.
Melaye had argued that such collosal amount of money is not needed by the He Police that had 2018 budgetary allocation.
But in his response, Goje said Melaye’s complaint was, however, belated after both chambers of the National Assembly had already passed the 2019 election budget.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, reframed Melaye’s concerns as he suggested that the police committee be mandated to look into the utilisation of previous allocation to the Police for election monitoring.
The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.