By Abiemwense Moru
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has said that contrary to speculations, funding of the 2019 general elections was not under any threat.
Dogara, who disclosed this while speaking with journalists at the National Assembly on Tuesday, said that provisions had been made for such contingencies under the Service-Wide Votes.
The speaker said that there was about N300 billion service wide votes provision in the 2018 budget that could be used to service election funding.
He reaffirmed that as custodians of the mandate of the Nigerian people, the House of Representatives would give priority to issues affecting Nigerians.
He added that all pending matters, Electoral Act inclusive, would be given accelerated attention.
Dogara said, “You see we are servants of the people by our calling as Representatives of Nigerians and we don’t have the right to put our interests forward before the interests of the people.
“We are here to serve public good, these issues are outstanding and it was never going to be threatened in any way as was widely perceived.
“This is because we have a provision in the budget for Service-Wide votes, about N300 billion and whatever was the emergency would have been met from that service-wide fund that we have allocated in the budget.
“As we are back, we have set ourselves to accomplish what is there in the interest of the people.
“Even if it means in a day or two we will accomplish that, even if it means handling it as we did for the Ease of Doing Business Bills.
“There were times that within a week we went through the first, second and third reading and passed it into law just because we saw the need for us to expand the economic space and improve citizen participation and wealth creation and the expansion of our economy, especially during these days of economic recession.”
He also reassured Nigerians that as soon as the reports from various committees were submitted, the House would work on them.
“So nothing is impossible and I can assure you that as soon as we get the reports submitted from the various committees, hopefully within the week, we should be able to deal with them.
“Whether it is the Electoral Act or the funding for elections and the appropriate funds for INEC is approved, and I can assure you that in no time, even if it is to be done within a day, we are committed to doing it.
“This is because the only thing that guarantees democracy is free, fair and transparent elections and we do not joke with it as politicians.
“It will not serve the interest of democracy, so whatever is needed, apart from even these two issues that we have spoken of, we are committed to passing and dealing with them to ensure a very credible, fair and transparent election in 2019.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on Aug. 29, submitted an adjusted budget of N143billion for the 2019 general election, following a directive of the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC.
The commission had earlier submitted a total budget of N189billion to the committee, for the same exercise.