Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) Chairman Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) on Wednesday said the Federal Government could fund next year’s general election by invoking the doctrine of necessity should the National Assembly fail to pass the budget.
According to him, the overriding necessity of elections and survival of democracy supersede the National Assembly’s powers where democracy is threatened.
Sagay, in a statement, said while the power to approve the budget is only a single item in the Constitution, democracy and its processes, including elections, are what the Constitution are about.
The statement reads: “The failure or refusal by the National Assembly to approve funds for the 2019 election will constitute a sabotage of our democracy, of which the Constitution is the embodiment.
“If elections are not held, it will mean the collapse of our democracy, leading to chaos and anarchy. The question that arises is simple.
“Which is more critical to democracy and the survival of Nigeria: Is it (1) the power of the National Assembly to approve budgets or (2) the survival of democracy and Nigeria itself?
“If the survival of democracy is more important and fundamental to Nigeria’s existence, then failure to approve the budget for elections will trigger the doctrine of necessity, thus compelling the funding of election without the approval of the National Assembly.
“It is simply a question of the survival of democracy and the continued existence of Nigeria. The power of approval of budget is just a single item in the whole of the Constitution.
“On the contrary, elections and democracy which they support, constitute what the whole Constitution is about.
“Therefore, the overriding necessity and imperative of elections and democracy simply override the power of National Assembly.
“If the National Assembly refuses or fails to approve the budget for election, the doctrine of necessity will validate the provision of the funds without the National Assembly’s approval.”
The National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will o reconvene on August 27 to conclude work on the 2019 INEC budget submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, had said in a statement: “Sequel to the ongoing consideration of the INEC 2019 General Election Budget by the joint committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, the general public is hereby informed that work on the budget is in advanced stage and in line with the mandate issued to the joint committee by the leadership of the National Assembly.
“Equally, the joint committee deliberated on all key attributes of the budget while taking into cognisance the imperative urgency for the budget to be ready in time for the 2019 general election hence, necessitating sacrifice and selflessness from our distinguished and honourable members.
“Furthermore, it is imperative to state here explicitly that, after an audacious session with all critical stakeholders, the joint committee dissolved into executive structure and agreed to resume on 27th of August, 2018, (after Sallah) to consider the harmonised version of the budget report diligently.
“Moreso, the report of the joint committee will be made available for further and appropriate legislative action in earnest.”