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Buhari demands N242b for 2019 elections

“ The aggregate cost of the 2019 elections is estimated at N 242, 445, 322, 600 . 00 , but only N 164, 104, 792, 065 . 00 will be spent for urgent needs of the polls because of funds constraints , ’’ President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed yesterday .
In a letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki to senators at the commencement of yesterday ’ s session , Buhari asked that the sum of N 228, 854 billion of the N 578, 319 billion worth of projects ‘ inserted ’ by the National Assembly into the 2018 budget be vired or converted for the purpose of funding the election .
This will also fund N 64 , 749 billion worth of critical projects, which the assembly had earlier cut off from the budget .
The letter , tagged , ‘ Request for Virement and Supplementary 2018 Budget’ , reads: “ As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019 .
To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair elections , it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations . INEC and the security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests.
These have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation . The aggregate cost of the elections is estimated at N 242, 445, 322, 600 . 00 . ”
He added : “ In the light of prevailing fiscal constraints , I am proposing that the sum of N 164, 104, 792, 065 . 00 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget .
I propose that the balance of N 78 , 340, 530. 535. 00 , mostly related to personnel allowances , fueling and other costs not required until the election proper , be provided in the 2019 budget . ”
Meanwhile , in a keynote address he delivered yesterday on the occasion of the 20 th anniversary of the International Criminal Court ( ICC ) , The Hague , Holland , Buhari restated his administration ’ s commitment to doing “ everything possible to ensure that Nigeria witnesses the conduct of free , fair and peaceful elections in 2019 . ”
The only president invited to the event marking the adoption of the ICC Rome Statute , he said : “ Contrary to the tragic incidents that characterised the 2011 general elections in Nigeria, which necessitated preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court , I assure you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic incidents .
“ A strong and effective ICC can also act as a catalyst for other justice efforts , expanding the reach of accountability .
These could include serious cases of corruption by state actors that severely compromise the development efforts of countries and throw citizens into greater poverty .
These could also include cases of illicit financial flows where countries are complicit and obstruct repatriation of stolen assets . As the African Union Champion on Anti – corruption , these are issues dear to my heart . ”
He said Nigeria’ s untiring cooperation and support for the court was “ borne out of our strong belief in the respect for the rule of law and human rights , and in our firm commitment to the sanctity of fundamental freedoms at international and domestic levels , as ingrained in the objectives for establishing the Court . ”
He said Nigeria has demonstrated its confidence in the court by “ full and transparent cooperation ” on matters on which it is being investigated and in “ several country statements at the sessions of the Court . ”
Buhari advised the court to “ take on board all constructive criticisms and allay lingering fears and concern through targeted messaging, awareness raising and possible modification of some legal provisions . ”
“ If properly articulated , communication and awareness raising would engender trust and encourage greater cooperation of Member States with the Court and even encourage non – Member States to decide to become Members.
It must avoid even a hint of bias or political motivations . ”
Urging states that have not done so to accede to the Rome Statute of the ICC , so that it can become a universal treaty , Buhari said : “ The goals and responsibilities of the Court are no doubt very challenging and daunting .
But with the cooperation of all, coupled with the high calibre of judges and staff of the Court, the challenges are not insurmountable .
I, therefore , urge all States not to politicize the decisions of the Court but to always bear in mind the rationale for the establishment of the Court in the first place . ”
He congratulated Judge Chile Eboe – Osuji on his election as President of the ICC , describing him as “ a cherished son of Nigeria. ”
Over 25 high – level state officials attended the event . They included the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute , O- Gon Kwon; ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda , ICC Registrar Peter Lewis , UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares and others .
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) seized the opportunity of the visit to highlight alleged rights abuses in Nigeria , asking the ICC to quiz Buhari .
In a statement released Monday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan , it noted “ the globally documented abuse of human rights in Nigeria, particularly , the U . S . Department of State 2017 Human Right Report , which catalogued issues of extrajudicial and arbitrary killings ; disappearances and arbitrary detentions and torture , particularly in detention facilities in Nigeria under this administration . ”
The party charged Buhari to report his administration to the court over alleged crimes against humanity and killings under his government .
It recalled it had earlier filed a petition at the United Nations against the president over alleged rights violations in the country , stressing : “ What the Presidency seeks to hide from Nigerians is that the ICC Rome Statute deals directly with critical issues of crime against humanity and genocide , which are already prevalent in Nigeria under President Buhari ’ s watch . ”

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