One month after the 2018 budget was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, strong indications emerged yesterday that fresh crisis looms between the Executive and the legislative arm of government over the burning issue of insertion of N578bn into the N9.12trillion 2018 budget by the lawmakers.
In a letter to the Senate Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to remove a total of N228 billion as reinstatement from the inserted N578 billion in the 2018 budget to fund critical projects.
In a letter read yesterday at plenary by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, President Buhari told the Senators that not less than N242 billion would be required for the conduct of 2019 general and Presidential elections.
President Buhari in a letter sent to National Assembly dated July 11 which was addressed to Saraki, however explained that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Security agencies have submitted their requests in preparation for 2019 general elections.
According to the President in the letter, a proposed sum of N164 billion should be provided for through virement or supplementary of the 2018 budget.
President Buhari in the letter seeking for Virement or Supplementary, explained that out of the proposed N242, 445, 322, 600.00 billion estimated funding of the 2019 general elections , N164.104billion should be appropriated for by the National Assembly through Virement while the balance of N78.340billon would be provided for in the 2019 budget provisions .
According to him, a total amount of N228, 864, 008, 215 billion was required to be vired from the N578bn inserted into the N9.12trillion 2018 budget by the National Assembly for the projected N164bn for election expenses this year and the balance of N64billions for restoration of votes into critical projects earlier removed by the federal lawmakers.
President Buhari in the letter explained further that the urgently needed N164bn for funding of the 2019 general elections are to be allocated as follows , INEC – N143,512,529,455.00 bn; N3,855,500,000 bn for the office of National Security Adviser; N2,903,638,000 for DSS ; N1,845,597,000 for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps , N11,457,417,432bn for the Nigeria Police Force and N530.1million for the Nigeria Immigration Service .
It would be recalled that President Buhari had last month while assenting to the N9.12 trillion 2018 budget , lamented that the National Assembly inserted a total of 1,403 new projects into the budget amounting to N578bn, just as he vowed to send an amendment/supplementary budget to the federal lawmakers for required remedies .
If the President’s request for N228bn virement is approved, it means that the balance of the inserted sum would be N350bn.
President Buhari’s letter is titled, “REQUEST FOR VlREMENT & SUPPLEMENTARY 2018 BUDGET” The letter read, “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 the 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 N242,445,322,600.00. “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 summarized 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.”