By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – A presidential aide, Sen. Ita Enang, has expressed concern over the National Assembly’s silence on President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for consideration of security agencies’ budgets ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
Enang, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), while addressing the National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Abuja on Friday, said the focus had been on INEC Budget.
He sought to know why the 2019 election budgets for the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security Services (DSS), Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS) and National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as National Security Adviser (NSA) were not being considered.
“My concern is that much is being said about the INEC budget. Mr President also submitted budget for the office of the NSA, DSS, Immigration, Police and NSCDC.
“These are budgets relating to the conduct of the 2019 elections and all I have heard and noticed emphasised is the budget of INEC.
“So, I just want to raise the question whether the other budgets have no problem and would be passed with the budget of INEC or whether it will be considered later by your committee or another committee.”
Enang said that there would be challenges in the successful conduct of the elections, if the budgets of the security agencies were not considered.
“If we pass INEC budget now and do not pass the other related budgets, we will still have problem.
“I plead that as this is considered, we should be able to consider the other budgets.
Responding, the Chairman, Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Mr Suleiman Nazif, said the committee was only concerned with INEC budget.
“This committee is essentially involved with INEC.
“The budgets of the other agencies will be handled by another committee. Ours is INEC.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had requested Senate’s approval of N242.45 billion for the 2019 General Elections.
Part of the funds, according to the President’s request, will be given to the Department of State Services and other security agencies for the same purpose.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and dated July 11 and personally signed by Buhari.
The letter, which Saraki read at plenary on July 17, indicated that Buhari requested that out of the needed figure, N164.10 billion should be provided through virement or supplementation of 2018 Budget.
It also requested that the balance of N78.34 billion, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided for in the 2019 budget.
The sum of N189.21 billion was earmarked for INEC, N4.3 billion for Office of the Security Adviser, N12.21 billion for DSS and N3.6 billion for Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The Nigeria Police Force got a proposal of N30.5 billion while N2.6 billion was earmarked for Nigeria Immigration Service.