The lawmaker representing Jigawa North West Senatorial District, Sen. Abdullahi Gumel, has described delay in the passage of the 2019 Elections Budget by the National Assembly as an act of sabotage.
Gumel (APC-Jigawa) in Abuja, that the delay was a deliberate attempt to frustrate the effort of the present government towards free and fair elections.
Gumel, who is a member of the committees on Appropriation, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Police Affairs, said that in spite of the urgency of the matter; only committee on INEC had met and concluded work.
The lawmaker, who is also Chairman Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, added that the leadership of the other committees were yet to invite members for any meeting in that regard.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s request on July 11 when he sought the legislators’ approval of N242 billion for the general elections.
Buhari had in July, requested National Assembly’s approval of N164.10 billion in the form of virement, to commence preparations for the 2019 general elections.
In the request, the money would be allocated as follows: INEC, N143.51 billion; Office of National Security Adviser, N3.86 billion and Department of State Services (DSS), N2.90 billion.
Others are Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, N1.85 billion; Nigeria Police Force, N11.46 billion and Nigeria Immigration Service, N530.1million.
Gumel said, “you cannot rule out sabotage in this development because the Senate President has decamped to an opposition party.
“I think he will be happy if the government does not succeed because he decamped to a party that is working to take over from us.
“We view it as sabotage because the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus has demanded the National Assembly to reconvene and finish up work on the budget.
“From the look of things, we are not reconvening until the date we are meant to resume.
“We have finished the job in the INEC Committee and transmitted back to the leadership but I do not know if the leadership has transmitted it to the Appropriation Committee.
“If they did, the Appropriation Committee did not call us for any meeting. We are supposed to meet to find the source of funding for the election.
“Also, the Police Affairs Committee has not met to deliberate on the Police budget for the election and I suppose other committees on security have not met in that regard as well, ‘’ he said.
Gumel further expressed concern over observations made by Mr President while withholding assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, particularly drafting errors.
He said it had become imperative for the leadership of the national assembly to meet with the management to find lasting solution to the problem, adding that it had become recurrent.
He said the matter should be taken seriously as any alteration in the intention of a bill, would lead to misinterpretation when signed into law.
“Those in the drafting unit should be careful to avoid return of bills sent to the President for assent.
“I think it is now pertinent to proof read any bill drafted by the national assembly management to avoid these problems,” he said.
On reported crisis in the APC, the lawmaker said recent developments in the party were only synonymous with activities in an election year.
He debunked claims that the party was in disarray, saying “there is no crisis in APC.”
Gumel added that claims of disagreement on the mode of election were not problems, stressing that the party leadership had given states the permission to choose modes that were most suitable to them.
He said that the APC National Executive Council (NEC) agreed to leave it open to various states to choose the mode they prefer.
“A state like Kano state decided to go for direct primaries, while most of the states, including Jigawa rooted for indirect primaries, while a state like Kebbi decided to go for consensus candidates”.
Gumel expressed optimism that APC would return to power in 2019.