The nation might witness another battle between National Assembly and Executive branch of the government over the controversial 2018 budget, as President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the legislators to vire N228,854,008,215 from the N9.12 trillion 2018 budget to fund the 2019 general election and other critical projects.
Buhari specifically told the National Assembly to vire the N228.9 billion from the contentious N578,319, 951.904 billion total projects sum it without consultation, inserted into the 2018 budget.
This request is contained in a presidential memo dated 11 July, 2018 read yesterday by Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
If approved, the virement, entitled “Request for virement and supplementary 2018 budget”, will cut deep into the controversial constituency projects funding for 2018.
The President said that the aggregate cost of the 2019 elections is estimated at N242, 445,322,600.00
Of the amount, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to receive N189.207 billion. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) will get N4.2 billion.
The Department of State Services (DSS) is to receive N12.213 billion. The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) will get N3.573 billion.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is to get N30.541 billion. Immigration Service (NIS) will receive N2.628 billion.
The letter reads in part: “As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair elections, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations.
“INEC and security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests. These have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation. The aggregate cost of the elections is estimated at N242,445,322,600.”
“However, in the light of prevailing fiscal constraints, I am proposing that the sum of N164,104,792,065.00 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget.
“I propose that the balance of N78,340,530.535.00 mostly related to personnel allowances, fueling and other costs not required until the election proper, be provided in their 2019 budget.
“The proposal for the 2019 General Elections are summarised below:
“You will also recall that when I signed the 2018 Appropriation Act, I indicated the need to request the reinstatement of certain cuts made to certain critical projects provided in the original Executive Bill.
“I am therefore submitting for your consideration the reinstatement of the most critical of such cuts totaling N64,749,216,150, which are summarised in page 1.
“The total amount required to be provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 General Elections and to restore the identified critical projects to the amount earlier proposed is therefore N228,854,008,215.
“Implementing a budget of N9.12 trillion for 2018 will be extremely challenging and, therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose a further increase to the size of the 2018 “Expenditure Framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items
“Accordingly, I invite the Distinguished Senate to consider, in the national interest, reallocating some of the funds appropriated for the new projects which were inserted into the 2018 Budget proposal totaling N578,319,951,904 to cover the sum of N228,854,008,215 required as noted above.
“A schedule setting out a comprehensive list of these inserted projects is attached to this letter for ease of your consideration.
“Further to the above kindly find attached the Supplementary Budget and Virement proposal for your consideration
“While hoping that this request will receive the expeditious consideration of the Distinguished Senate, please accept. Mr. Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
In the NPF proposal, feeding of police dogs is to N166,315 million during the 2019 elections;
N143,782 is to be spent on medical and general expenses for the dogs.
There is N7,719.4 for feeding of 50 horses belonging to the police.
The legislators have not reacted to the letter as the time of going to the press, but BMWA gathered that the Senators are gearing to reject the virement request.