Nigeria’s Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has condemned the executive, alleging that its late submission of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s budget for the 2019 elections showed its lack of foresight.
It also knocked the President Muhammadu Buhari Media Organisation for accusing him of slowing down the approval of the budget.
It would be recalled that the group had accused Saraki of postponing the resumption of the Senate in spite of Buhari’s submission of INEC’s budget.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on New Media, Olu Onemola, the Senate President on Sunday disclosed that the National Assembly was committed to the approval of INEC’s budget for the 2019 polls.
Saraki’s aide said in spite of the failure of the executive to submit the budget on time, the committees of the National Assembly had been working to ensure that due process was followed in approving the request.
He stated, “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.
“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.
The aide said groups like the Buhari Media Organisation that had worked assiduously “with conscientious ignorance as their guide to attempt to scapegoat the Senate President for the failure of the executive to submit INEC’s 2019 election budget on time.
“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?”
He recalled that INEC had stated that it was confident and comfortable with the thorough and transparent response by the National Assembly.
The executive is not to blame – Minister’s aide
But in his reaction on Sunday, the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Akpandem James, said it was not true that the INEC budget was received and kept by the executive.
James said that since the budget came in form of supplementary budget, it was not proper to send it with the national budget.
He said the national budget is usually sent by the executive and passed by the National Assembly before the supplementary budget would be forwarded to the parliament.
James 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.”
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