The Election Monitor (EM) has said that the September 25 planned resumption of the National Assembly could doom the conduct of the 2019 General Elections as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be handicapped without its budget for the elections.
The Coordinator of the EM, Mr. Abiodun Ajijola said today in a statement that while INEC proposed a budget of N189.21bn for the 2019 elections, the total budget required is N242.45bn with the difference going for security.
He wondered why just over six months to the first set of elections, the budget for the polls is yet to be passed.
"INEC will issue the Notice of the 2019 General Elections on Friday 17th August, 2018. The Presidential and National Assembly elections are slated to hold on Saturday 16th February 2019 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections are slated to hold on Saturday 2nd March, 2019.
"The 28th April, 2019 is the last date for all elections to have been conducted. Pursuant to Sections 76(2), 116(2), 132(2) and 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), elections shall not hold later than 30 days before the term of office of the last holder of that office.
"It is important to state that there are about six weeks from the date of this press release till the formal resumption of the National Assembly. It is also important to note that there is a seven week gap between the current last election date and the actual last date possible by law that is from 2nd March to 28th April, 2019.
"In addition, there needs to be at least a two-week gap between the National and State elections meaning National elections can’t be later than 14th April, 2019," Ajibola said.
According to him, this means that the country cannot afford to wait till 25th September 2018 to pass the budget for the 2019 General Elections and that it becomes critical that the National Assembly urgently reconvene to ensure that there is a budget for next year’s election.
He said that failure to reconvene the National Assembly to pass the INEC budget urgently and long before the official resumption date of 25th September, 2018 is capable of plunging Nigeria into an avoidable and unnecessary constitutional crisis.