Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu

The leadership of the Senate, led by its President Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, met with the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the budget for 2019 elections.

The Senate’s leadership arising from a World Press Conference addressed by Dr Bukola Saraki, proceeded to the meeting with the commission.

Saraki had said during the briefing that the Senate was ready to meet with the commission and immediately reconvene to pass the N242 billion Budget if the need arose.

INEC Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, while briefing the Senate, said that the commission had been energized by the meeting which was at the instance of the Senate.

He told the lawmakers that it was pertinent for the commission to have the budget as it needed to begin procurement within a minimum of six months to the elections.

“We are now more energized, more reassured that our plans for the 2019 General Elections are absolute in progress. We have from today exactly 191 days to the opening of polling units by 8am on Saturday, February, 2019.

There are activities we have to undertake for a minimum of six months to the Election Day and six months to Election Day kick-start from the 15th of August.

“It means we have eight days to the commencement of these activities. We are confidence that all the grey areas will be ironed out and as far as INEC is concerned our own component of the cost of 2019 elections will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly.

“Your excellency, I am sure you are aware this is the very first time in the history of our elections that the budget for elections in Nigeria is subjected to approval by the National Assembly in this way,” he said.

The meeting went into a closed door session as journalists and not senators were asked to excuse the senate to meet privately with the INEC officials.

Arising from the meeting, INEC Chairman Yakubu said that the main issue that was discussed was how to speedily pass the INEC Budget.

“The most important thing to say was INEC was invited to meet with the National Assembly leadership on how the proposed budget for the 2019 elections can be speedily considered and appropriated.

“We have been assured of speedy passage of the budget perhaps as early as next week,” he said.

Corroborating the position of Yakubu, Senator Phillip Aduda said that the Senate through its President had already agreed to reconvene of the need arises to consider the INEC Budget.

“If need be we will resume to consider the virement request and we are agreeing we will fix a date to discuss this budget and ensure passage,” he said.

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