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2019 INEC budget: Saraki hits executive, accuses it of delaying submission

2019 INEC budget: Saraki hits executive, accuses it of delaying submission

- Bukola Saraki has blamed the executive for submitting the 2019 election budget late

- The Senate president blamed lack of foresight on the part of the government for this delay

- The aide to the minister of budget and national planning has however denied that the executive delayed the budget

Senate president Bukola Saraki, on Sunday, August 19, lambasted the executive arm of the government for allegedly submitting the Independent National Electoral Commission’s budget for 2019 general elections late.

Saraki, who accused the executive of lack of foresight, made the statement through his special adviser on new media, Olu Onemola, while reacting to the allegation by Muhammadu Buhari Media Organisation that the Senate intentionally delayed the approval of the INEC budget, Punch reports.

The statement by Saraki's aide read in part: “By now, the Nigerian people are aware that the executive branch could have submitted INEC’s 2019 elections budget at the time it submitted the 2018 appropriation proposals last year.

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“The executive had from January till June this year to submit the budget request. However, due to a perceived lack of foresight, display of usual tardiness or an attempt to ensure that due process would not be followed, this request was submitted only a few days before the statutory National Assembly annual recess.

“More importantly, the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly to help legalise the various innovations that needed for free and fair elections is still absent because President Muhammadu Buhari chose to withhold his assent the first time it was transmitted.

“The question the Buhari Media Organisation should ask their principal is: “What is he afraid of in the very progressive proposals contained in the Electoral Bill? Why does he want to frustrate the 2019 elections by denying the nation the much-needed enabling law?”

However, the media adviser to the minister of budget and national planning, Akpandem James, said it was untrue the executive delayed the submission of INEC budget.

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James said the budget could not be submitted with the national budget because it came in form of supplementary budget.

He said: “INEC budget came as a supplementary budget. You don’t send the supplementary budget to the National Assembly when the substantive budget has not been passed. That is why they call it supplementary. So when was the budget passed? When was it assented to? Those are the issues.

“If the budget was passed early, that supplementary budget would have been sent to the National Assembly. The supplementary budget was sent one month, in fact the following month.

“The budget was signed in June and in July the supplementary budget was sent to the National Assembly. So, it’s not that INEC budget came and it was kept. Supplementary budget is sent to the National Assembly after the substantive budget has been passed.”

Meanwhile, earlier reported that INEC said it will not postpone the 2019 general elections because of the delay in the passage of its budget.

INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the clarifications while fielding questions from State House correspondents on Friday, August 17, in Abuja. He said that there was no provision under the law for postponement of elections.

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