HUOSE APPROVES N87.7BILLION FOR INEC.

IT was a smooth sail for the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC’s) request for N87.7billion to compile a new voters register at the House of Representatives Thursday.

The House approved INEC’s N87.7b request.

The Senate last Tuesday approved the request. But it did not come easily in the House.

Some members opposed certain provisions in the proposed estimate.

The money Bill was referred to the House Committees on Finance and Appropriation on Tuesday.

At Thursday’s sitting, Speaker Dimeji Bankole called for the consideration of the report of the Finance and Appropriation Committees on the request at the Committee of the Whole.

According to him, the Bill is for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N89,592, 874,171 only of which N22,210,441,531 is for additional recurrent (Non Debt) expenditure while the balance of N67,382,432,640 only is for contribution to the development fund for additional capital expenditure for the year ending on 31st day of December 2010.

Bankole mandated the House leader, Hon. Tunde Akogun, to move for the House to dissolve into Committee of the Whole for the consideration of the report.

Akogun complied. Bankole thereafter vacated his seat for Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada to conduct the consideration of the report.

Some members expressed surprise that the Finance and Appropriation committees did not remove duplications in the budget which they highlighted on Tuesday.

But Nafada said that though the House might not remove any of the subheads in the proposal, “at least Nigerians should be told how the money will be spent.”

The Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Musa Adar, made some explanations which calmed frayed nerves and paved the way for the proposal to sail through.

The House suspended its relevant rules to enable the Bill to be read the third time.

Nafada praised members “for the expeditious way and manner the Bill was passed.”

He noted that there would be no more excuse for INEC not to conduct a free, fair and credible election next year.

He said: “The Chairman of INEC said that he wanted the money before August 14. Today is 12, he has been given the money. No more excuse. What Nigerians want is free, fair and credible elections. Nigerians will not accept any thing less. INEC has been duly empowered to give the country credible elections.”

On whether INEC could draw its funds from the First Line Charge as specified in the amended Electoral Act 2010, Nafada noted that because the new Electoral Act has not been gazetted, the commission would still draw its appropriated funds through the office of the Minister of Finance.

The Deputy Speaker mandated the National Assembly bureaucracy to expedite the process of gazatting the Act to enable Nigerians to obtain copies of the new Electoral Act.

He said that until the Act was gazetted, there was not much that would be done since Nigerians needed to make reference to it whenever it was necessary.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, noted that “having passed the INEC budget, the responsibility has been shifted to INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

On the alleged directive by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that lawyers should not use the amended constitution, Eyiboh said “if they have given such directive, they are embarking on anarchy.”

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