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2019 Polls Budget: Presidency Tells National Assembly to Suspend Recess

The Presidency has urged the National Assembly to suspend the ongoing recess and attend to requests by President Muhammadu Buhari pending before the legislature.

The National Assembly was billed to proceed on holiday on Thursday but the lawmakers went on recess on Tuesday in protest against the alleged clampdown on President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

One of such requests is the one asking the lawmakers to vire funds in the 2018 Appropriation Act to fund the supplementary budgets of the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

Buhari had recently presented a N228bn supplementary budget to the National Assembly, asking the legislature to re-allocate part of the N578bn voted to the projects inserted by the lawmakers into the 2018 Appropriation Act.

Buhari said INEC and security agencies needed N242bn for the 2019 general elections. He asked that N164bn be vired to fund the polls while the balance of N78bn would be covered by the 2019 budget.

The President also said N64bn be taken from the same source back to the critical projects whose allocations were cut by the lawmakers.

The lawmakers had introduced 6,403 projects into the budget amounting to N578bn.

On Thursday, the Presidency pleaded with the lawmakers to reconvene and approve Buhari’s requests in the interest of the country.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters ( Senate), Senator Ita Enang, warned that delaying the approvals would frustrate some organs of the government.

Enang said, “The executive – President and ministers – will keep working with the legislature with respect due their offices and persons, and keep working with them as legislators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who make laws for the executive to execute irrespective of their individual political decisions while leaving all options open for conciliation.

“We will be praying the legislature – the leadership and membership – to consider that there are many matters of very urgent nature which are pending before the legislature and unless (they are) considered, the functioning of certain institutions of the government will be hampered.

“If you recall, a lot of the funding for the 2018 budget was budgeted to come from some external sources. The request for approval to raise funds from these external sources is before the legislature and unless (it is) considered, it may hamper the level of implementation. Again, before the legislature proceeded on vacation, Mr President also laid before them the request for virement, this also will be affected.”

The Punch

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