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Elections budget: Nationwide blackout imminent as Senate vires N25.5bn from power votes

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By Olugbenga Salami

……..30 MDAs affected in the virements 

Indications that the current epileptic electricity supply be experienced by Nigerians in many parts of the country may continue after the 2019 general elections, emerged on Wednesday with a whopping cut of N25.5billion from N714.668billion appropriated for the power sector in the 2018 budget as parts of monies vired for the conduct of next year’s general elections.

This followed the approval of virement/supplementary budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and security agencies for the conduct of the general elections as recommended by the Senate Committee on Appropriations by the Senate.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, APC-Gombe Central, while presenting report of the committee, explained that the earlier virement of N242billion for the elections budget entirely from service wide votes (Special Intervention Programme) should be rescinded and approve new sources recommended.

The recommended new sources as presented and approved by the Senate are N121.2billion to be vired from service wide votes and the remaining balance of N121billion to be vired from 2018 budgetary votes of affected 30 ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of the federal government.

Other sectors affected include the education sector where N10.238billion was vired from N651.226billion appropriated for the Federal Ministry of Education in the 2018 budget to make up for the N242.2billion now budgeted for conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The rest include 28 other MDAs which had parts of their 2018 budgetary allocations vired in addition to the N121.2billion vired from service wide votes to make up for the N242billion 2019 elections budget.

Others MDAs that suffered from the virements are Federal Ministry of Water Resources which has N12.954billion vired from its N155.149billion 2018 budget, Federal Ministry of Agriculture where N11billion was vired from its N203billion 2018 budget.

The rest include the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning -N8.845billion, Federal Ministry of Defence N2.636billiin, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs -N1.737billion and Federal Ministry of Health -N8.059billion.

Also affected in the virements are Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation N6.734billion, Office of the National Security Adviser N1.120billion, Ministry of Labour and Employment N2.727billion, Information and Culture N1.884billion, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs N1.199billion, Science and Technology N7.466bn, Industry, Trade and Investment N7.085billion etc.

However, the committee in the report, retained the spread of the N242billion virement votes for conduct of the 2019 general elections across the six affected agencies as earlier approved by both chambers of the National Assembly with N189billion for INEC, N27.3billion for the Nigeria Police Force and N9.481billionn for the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

Others are N10.213billion for the Department of State Services, DSS, N3.573billion for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and N2.628billion for the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, totalling N242, 245, 050, 100 virement/supplementary as passed by the National Assembly.

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