Frontline Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] accredited observer, Election Monitor, has warned that failure to reconvene the National Assembly to urgently pass the INEC budget ahead of the 2019 elections before the official resumption date of 25th September, 2018 is capable of plunging Nigeria into an avoidable and unnecessary constitutional crisis which must be completely avoided.
INEC proposed a budget of 189.21Bn for the conduct of the 2019 General elections. The total budget required is 242.45Bn with the difference going for security. The group expressed worry that with just over 6 months to the first set of elections, the budget for the elections is yet to be passed.
In a press statement issued by the National Coordinator, Election Monitor, Mr Abiodun Ajijola, said the National Assembly has gone on its annual recess and its official resumption date is Tuesday 25th September, 2018. It’s important to state that there are about six (6) weeks from the date of this press release till the formal resumption of the National Assembly.
According to Ajilola, “It is important to note that there is a 7 week gap between the current last election date and the actual last date possible by law i.e from 2nd March to 28th April, 2019. In addition there needs to be at least a two-week gap between the National and State elections meaning National elections can’t be later than 14th April, 2019.
“The meaning of all this is that the country cannot afford to wait till 25th September 2018 to pass the budget for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections. It therefore becomes critical that the National Assembly urgently reconvene to ensure that there is a budget for next year’s election.
“The 28th April, 2019 is the last date for all elections to have been conducted. Pursuant to Sections 76(2), 116(2), 132(2) and 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) elections shall not hold later than 30 days before the term of office of the last holder of that office.”
Ajilola called on all Senators and Members of the Federal House of Representatives to put Nigeria first and put partisan politics in the back seat.
“Election Monitor commends the senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral Matters for its current INEC budget review activities. However the leadership of the National Assembly is expected to reconvene the legislature and pass INEC’s budget at the earliest possible date to ensure The Commission is able to effectively prepare for the 2019 Nigerian General Elections,” the statement added.