Why NASS Delayed Passage Of 2022 Budget

Why NASS Delayed Passage Of 2022 Budget
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BY EKEBUISI OKOROCHA/ ABDUL LATEEF BAMGBOSE

Nigerians looking forward to the passage of the N16.39 trillion 2022 Appropriation Bill this week may be in for a shocker as the planned passage of the national budget by both chambers of the National Assembly before the week runs out has suffered a setback: the financial requirements from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for 2023 general is yet to be presented and captured.

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This is as the National Population Commission, NPC, declared that the scheduled National Census for next year would cost N400billion.

Last minute efforts made by the Senate Appropriation Committee to get the requirement details from INEC on the 2023 general elections at a special session yesterday failed as the chairman of the electoral body, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, was absent at the session.

The commissioner who represented the chairman of the umpire body at the session, Alhaji Zuru Abdulrahman Abdul, informed the committee that the details being sought for could not be given by him but only by the INEC chairman.

Abdul said,”Mr Chairman and members of this distinguished committee, we have listened to you and appreciated the concern on funding the 2023 general elections as regards the need to capture some of the projected expenses in the 2022 budget.

“But such financial details can only be given by our chairman who is presently abroad and billed to return on Sunday or Monday morning.

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“In the light of this, financial details requested for shall be made available on Monday next week”, he said.

Consequently, the chairman of the committee, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) ruled for adjournment of the session to Monday.

In a brief media chat with journalists thereafter, Senator Barau said the latest development would not make passage of the 2022 budget this week possible.

“The 2023 general elections and projected National Head counts slated for next year are very important the reason why we want to make provisions for them in the 2022 budget.

 “As a result of the importance of the two, passage of the 2022 budget will no longer be possible this week as earlier planned and clearly stated on our time table”, he said.

In the time table released in October, a report on the budget was supposed to have been laid by the Appropriation Committee on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 and passage fixed for Wednesday or Thursday this week.

In line with Senator Barau’s disclosure to journalists, the Senate at the end of its session yesterday, adjourned to Tuesday December 21, 2021 for another session, strongly indicating that the budget might be laid, considered and passed that day, signaling a week behind schedule.

Meanwhile, the NPC chairman, Alhaji Nasir Isa Kwarra, told the committee that the total estimated cost for the national census slated for next year is N400billion.

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The committee at the end of the session said submissions gotten from NPC will be added to the expected one from INEC on Monday next week as parts of the report to be laid before the Senate for consideration and passage possibly Tuesday next week.

 You would recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission ,INEC, has said the onus of having a new electoral framework ahead of the 2023 general elections resides with the National Assembly and the Presidency.

Festus Okoye, the INEC’s Commissioner, said this at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, as far as the electoral management body was concerned, INEC was still operating with the existing electoral legal framework because the new one was not ready.

He said that there were some fundamental issues around the new electoral framework. One of the big issues as far as the electoral management body is concerned is related to the deepening of democracy through the use of technology.

Okoye said that INEC, from the beginning, made a determination that it is important in the national interest to reduce human interference in the electoral process, and based on that, decided to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process.

“INEC is the first electoral management body in Africa to introduce online voter registration exercise and based on this you can see the astronomical rise in the number of young persons who have done their pre-registration before capturing their biometrics.

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“Now, what is it in the new electoral bill that is different? Prior to this particular period, the uploading of polling units results was just for public views.’’

Okoye said that the second issue related to internal democracy in political parties had been very challenging and difficult to handle.

He said that looking at the existing electoral legal framework, two methods of voting in primary elections have been imputed there, direct and indirect primaries.

According to a reliable source from the commission who pleads anonymously, the INEC deliberately waits for the assenting to the new Electoral Act by Mr President as the Commission through a letter had advised him to go ahead and assent to the bill. As the bill if assent to by President Buhari will enable INEC prepare adequately on time to serve Nigerians better come 2023 general elections as modalities and necessary preparation would be properly done, the source said.

Aljazirahnews


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