The burden of funding the 2019 general elections has been shifted to 30 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by the Senate.
Against its earlier resolution on the sources of funding the budget, the Senate yesterday considered the MDAs as capable enough of taking care of half of the N242.2billion needed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to execute the polls.
The other half of the money, according to the Upper House, would come through supplementary budget, solely from the Service Wide Votes.
The Senate went ahead to name the MDAs and the specific amount of money that should be come through virement from each of them.
The resolution followed a motion by the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, at plenary.
In a voice vote, the Senate resolved that half of the election budget would be sourced from the MDAs, while the other half would come from the Service Wide Votes.
Consequently, the sum of N121.122billion would be sourced from the Service Wide Votes, while N121.122billion would come from the MDAs.
A breakdown of the amount to be sourced from the MDAs showed that N25.527 billion would come from Power, Works and Housing; N12.6billion – Water Resources; N11billion – Agriculture and Rural Development.
Others are N10.238billion – Education and N8billion-Health; N8.9 billion- Budget and National Planning; N7.5 billion – Science and Technology; N6.7 billion-Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF); N7billion – Trade and Investment; N2.7 billion – Labour and Employment among others.
There was, however, a twist to the consideration for the budget as Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi) raised objection to the N27.3billion allocated to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for the conduct of the elections.
He said that it was unjustifiable to allocate such huge amount of money to the NPF, in view of the fact that many Nigerians were “battling with hunger.”
Goje countered Melaye’s observation, saying the amount had been approved and that the only change was the source of funding.
“I want to correct the impression created by the last speaker. There is usually massive deployment during elections.
“The amount may even be too small because you’re going to have policemen in every polling unit,” Goje said.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that while there was nothing wrong in ensuring funding for election, the implementation should be investigated.
The Senate consequently mandated the committees on Police Affairs and other security agencies to investigate how the police applied funds for the 2011 and 2015 general elections and report back in two weeks.
The Senate had approved the sum of N242.2 billion for the 2019 general elections.
Of the amount, N189 billion was earmarked for INEC and N9.5 billion for office of the National Security Adviser.
Others were N10.2 billion – Department of State Security (DSS), N5.6 billion – National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), N27.3 billion – NPF and N2.6 billion – Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
. . . Probes Social Intervention Fund, SURE-P
Meanwhile, Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have insisted that if President Muhammadu Buhari’s social intervention programme fund should be probed, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) be investigated as well.
Consequently, the Senate yesterday resolved to investigate the alleged misuse of the social intervention programme fund and also to probe how funds allocated to the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) were used.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion by the Senate minority leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti, PDP) on alleged deployment of funds under the social intervention programme to buy Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to ensure re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Olujimi who exhibited copies of signed forms used by an alleged beneficiary of the intervention fund, claimed that beneficiaries were made to attach their PVCs before they could benefit from the fund.
She said that it was unfortunate that the social intervention fund created for the benefit of every Nigerian was allegedly being manipulated to buy PVCs for Buhari’s re-election bid.
Olujimi who came under Order 42 (personal explanation) urged the Senate to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency.
She said that the upper chamber should insist that the social intervention fund must not be used for political purposes.
Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, described the allegation as completely unfounded.
As Lawan made to disabuse the minds of his colleagues about any untoward use of the fund, the Senate erupted with shouts of point of order.
Attempts by Saraki to control the situation failed for some moment.
He gave Senator Melaye the floor to move his point of order.
Melaye said that Olujimi’s motion should first be seconded before contributions would be made.
The house was divided along party lines. Lawan requested for protection and to be allowed to make his points.
Saraki said that Lawan should be allowed to speak.
Lawan said that “I listened attentively to the motion by Senator Olujimi.
“I want to say that the social intervention programme of this administration is transparent.
“For the first time in the history of social intervention programmes in Nigeria we have proofs that anywhere you are in Nigeria, you can apply” he added.
The shout of point of order continued.
Senator Albert Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East) took the floor to raise Orders 49 and 52.
Akpan reiterated Melaye’s position that Saraki should first allow Olujimi’s motion to be seconded.
He added that contributions in support of the motion should be taken after which those opposed to the motion should take the floor.
Saraki could take none of that. He said that Lawan should be allowed to conclude his contribution.
Lawan said that the social intervention programme of the government is computer-based which made it simple for Nigerians to apply wherever they were.
He urged the Senate president to be above board and blind to the debate.
Lawan added that Olujimi should tender the document she has while the investigation should be party blind.
At this junction, Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North, APC) moved for additional prayer in Olujimi’s motion to include the investigation of the SURE-P.
The Senate adopted the prayer and resolved to probe both Social Intervention Programme and SURE-P.