Deji Adeyanju, convener of a civil society group known as Concerned Nigerians, on Friday described the N242bn virement approved by the Senate for funding the 2019 general elections as outrageous.
Speaking with DAILY POST in Abuja, he noted that the N242bn virement was more than the combined sum of money spent on the 2011 and 2015 elections by the previous government.
According to him, N85bn and N93bn were spent for the two previous elections respectively not withstanding the acquisition of hardwares such as data capturing machines, card readers, and computers.
He further questioned the rationality of the approved N242bn virement, which necessitated slashing of the 2018 budgets of key ministries such as health and education as well as funds for Social Investment Programmes and the President’s service-wide vote when such basic hardwares were not necessarily going to be purchased for 2019 polls.
Adeyanju absolved the National Assembly of blame in the public outcry that greeted the slashing of the 2018 budget of the ministries.
His words: “The funding for the 2019 elections is outrageous and does not stand up to reason or correspond with electioneering reality in the country because 2011 Elections cost N85billion and 2015 elections cost N93b respectively.
“Under President Buhari, N242b will be used for 2019 election.
“Now, we are not buying anything unlike the previous elections that we bought data capturing machines, card readers, computers & every other thing
“To the best of my knowledge, in the virement request made on the National Assembly by the executive, the legislature debated on the floor on how to fund the elections.
“They initially concluded it must come from service wide votes and specifically from poverty alleviation fund under vice president which was passed.
“Then the executive came back that they didn’t want that fund touched. They Put pressure on NASS to review. Executive then suggested they fund it 50:50. Half from poverty fund, balance should be funded by slashing the budget of all ministries pro rata.
“So when you go through the National Assembly order paper you will see the source of funding exactly like that. I, therefore, do not see why anyone will now try to put all the blame at the feet of NASS.”