LEADERSHIP HEADLINE: INEC Budget: Angst Over 2019 Polls As NASS Backtracks

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There is growing concern over the possibility of the 2019 general election taking place as planned as it became clearer yesterday that the National Assembly would not be reconvening anytime soon to consider the election budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.

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The leadership of both chambers had met last week and agreed that plenary will be reconvened yesterday or today for the consideration of the budget among other urgent National issues after their meeting with INEC chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu on Thursday. But contrary to announcement made that the federal legislature will reconvene this week, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said yesterday that a date is yet to be set for both chambers to reconvene and consider the request for approval of the supplementary budget. This, according to them, is due to the inability of the joint Senate and House committees on Electoral Matters and officials of INEC as well as the joint committees on Appropriation, Loans and Debts to meet as earlier planned.

The leaders of the National Assembly revealed this in a statement co-signed by their special advisers on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu and Turaki Hassan. The statement noted: “The Senate President, Bukola  Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have directed that we inform all Senators, Honorable members and the public that a date has not been set for the reconvening of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2019 elections budget request forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 17, 2018. “The leadership of the two chambers had met and agreed to reconvene to consider the proposal this week before which a meeting between the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC must have held on or before Monday August 13, 2018.

“The joint committees were also expected to meet with the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, Loans and Debts on the Eurobond loan request after which two reports would have been ready for presentation in the two chambers. “However, no such meeting had taken place yet as a result of which both Senate and House of Representatives cannot reconvene as there is no report to consider. “Until the Committees have a ready report for the consideration of the two chambers, it will be most irresponsible to recall members from recess especially those that may have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj”.

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