Reducing MDAs’ budget to fund elections will create governance problems – CSO




The Movement for Transparent Elections, a civil society organisation, on Wednesday warned that reducing the budgets of Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) to fund the 2019 elections may adversely affect governance.

The group gave the warning at the backdrop of announcement by the National Assembly that it had cut the proposals of 30 MDAs in the 2018 budget to fund the general elections.

The funds would be used Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the polls.

Coordinator of the organisation, Mr Abiodun Ajijola, at a news briefing on voter mobilisation in Abuja wondered why INEC had yet to be adequately funded less than 100 days to the elections.

He said that the parliament received a letter in July, 2018 for virement and supplementary budget to fund the election, and agreed to vire the funds from the Social Investment Programme (SIP).

Ajijola, however, said that contrary to that, on Nov. 6, the National Assembly dropped sourcing the funds from SIP as it began investigation into the programme.

“It should be remembered that the assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration.

“The assembly introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

“The current step by the National Assembly to share the funding for elections between 30 MDAs and the SIP without making any cut on the increased funding of constituency projects, will likely create an impasse in governance.

“This could have ordinarily been avoided if greater effort was made to balance the source of funding,’’ he said.

Ajijola said that Nigerians needed to remember that the national assembly had cut the budget of Federal Government projects by N347 billion.

He said that slashing the already scarce allocation to MDAs by another N121.12 billion would clearly limit their performance since their projects had been budgeted for.

He alleged that some lawmakers said that the executive had approved that the funds be vired from MDAs.

The coordinator stated that the development was not compatible with the initial virement request for the funds to come from the inserted funds for constituency projects.

He pointed out that the national assembly needed to make some concessions in the funding sources proposed, to include part of its N587 billion added to the 2018 budget.

He urged the assembly to strive to meet the Federal Government half way “at a minimum’’, if truly it was committed to supporting free, fair and credible elections in 2019.

“At this point, all well-meaning Nigerians must lend their voices to this issue because it is clear that there is an attempt to frustrate Nigeria’s 2019 elections which will be a threat to democracy.

“The Movement for Transparent Elections expects that the entire budget for the elections should be released to INEC on or before Friday,’’ the coordinator said.

He urged the assembly and the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to work diligently together to make the 2019 elections a reality. (NAN)