The blame for the late submission of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC’s) budget should go to the National Assembly, the presidency said yesterday.
It exonerated President Muhammadu Buhari, who could not send a supplementary budget until after the passage of the 2018 budget, which took the “Saraki-led National Assmbly seven months to release.”
In a reaction to Senate President Bukola Saraki’s accusation of late submission of the INEC budget to the lawmakers by the presidency, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, said in a statement yesterday: “The Senate president should look into the mirror and what he will see is his own face. He is solely to be held responsible for deliberately driving the nation to this cliff edge as far as the preparations for next elections are concerned.
“It is not true that INEC submitted their draft budget to the presidency in February. No, it came much later but even then, this is not the real issue.
“A supplementary budget cannot be submitted until the main budget is passed, and so the delay in passing the main budget was the reason for the delay. The National Assembly passed the 2018 budget seven months after the document was submitted to the National Assembly by President Buhari.
“Unless someone has forgotten, the budget was submitted to the National Assembly and it took the Saraki-led National Assembly seven months to release it.
“There is no way President Buhari could have submitted a supplementary budget, while the main one was still pending. It is never done. Because Saraki did not return the main budget, we could not have submitted the supplementary one.
“After the long delays, the President was pained to sign the much distorted, butchered and debauched document. In giving his assent, President Buhari said he was compelled to sign the budget so as not to keep the economy continuously on a standstill.”
The statement added that this is the first time in Nigeria’s history that a government would bring together the cost of an election in one budget, with each agency involved invited to defend its portion of the budget before the National Assembly.
“It is all part of the transparency that this government is known for. In the past, governments would approve INEC budgets and funding without a breakdown, often using ways and means to fund it.”