At a Special Session of the Upper Legislative Chamber, the Senators have approved a total sum of N87.72 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of the second Supplementary Act.The approved figure indicated an increase of about N13 billion higher than the earlier request of N74 billion made by INEC but short of N1.87 billion from the N89.59 billion presented by the Presidency .
The amount would to be released from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and was captured under a second Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2010 sent to the Senate by the President Goodluck Jonathan.
Before the passage of the budget, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Iyiola Omisore, presented a report of the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Electoral Matters in conjunction with the Committees on Appropriation in both chambers. He disclosed that: “In view of the urgency attached to the request, the Committees of Appropriation of the two chambers had a joint meeting with the Senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral Matters, with the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega and his team in attendance and deliberated on the proposal as submitted by the President. In agreement with INEC, the budget was reviewed downward from N89.592 billion to N87.721 billion.”
Senators, who contributed to the debate on the bill, believed that due to urgency of the request and time constraints, they would rather approve it than delay the passage.
The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Kanti Bello was more specific when he said that: “All of us are aware that INEC is under pressure because of time. The condition for any credible election is funding and therefore we should allow the bill to pass and give INEC a bundle of ropes to hang itself.’’
The Deputy Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said INEC is in a dilemma because the Federal Government has stressed so much on credible polls next year. “INEC has a big dilemma and needs assistance. The government has promised a credible election. Since all depend on funding, government should provide all that is necessary. We have not had time to scrutinise the budget and time is not on our side. We have to pass the budget. I urge my colleagues to allow the passage. We should overlook whatever reservations and pass it.”
Only few senators attempted to raise issues on the budget, especially Senator Anyim Udeh from Ebonyi State who expressed displeasure with the way the figures changed from N72 billion from INEC to N89 billion from the Presidency.