THE PRESIDENT’S VIREMENT FUND REQUEST TO NASS ON THE 2018 BUDGET FOR 2019 ELECTION: A TROUBLED WATER- Evans Ufeli

The Nigerian economy has suffered too many set backs in the last few years for several reasons, particularly in the areas of the continuous delay in the passage of the budget. This practice had scared investors away, stifle our growth, shred our political economy and drain our trust with respect to government sincerity in the affairs of Nationhood.

In the midst of the rather difficult situation President Muhammadu Buhari sent a letter to the National Assembly on July 11 2018 which was read before the senate on the 17 of July 2018 for virement of N242bn from the 2018 budget. The funds originally meant for project,the President requests that the project be suspended and funds be channeled for the conduct of the 2019 elections.

Based on the President’s  request, out of the needed figure, N164.10bn would be provided through virement or supplementation of 2018 Budget. It also requested that the balance of N78.34bn, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper be provided for in the 2019 budget.

There is a clear indication that this request may no see the light of the day given that from the outset the request has been wrongly presented to the National Assembly as a supplementary budget but the substance of its derivatives are far away from what we know as supplementary budget. Virement is not supplementary, it a way of reordering priorities. The President out to have come clear on this because the National Assembly that inserted the funds for projects for which the president wants out may most likely object the request.

The elections for 2019 is rather too close for the President to begin a complex move this late. Didn’t the government know that elections are supposed to be conducted four years after and they still didn’t plan for this? It’s rather disconcerting to note that the leadership of this country at such a time like hadn’t the basic leadership control mechanism to guarantee some level of productivity in handling its affairs.

It’s the President’s right to make such requests but this is subject to the National Assembly’s  approval in a democracy.

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