A coalition of civil society organisations, under the auspices of the Movement for Transparent Elections, has given the National Assembly a five-day ultimatum to reconvene and pass the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 general elections or face a massive nationwide protest.
The MTE, which held a protest rally in Abuja, gave the federal legislature till September 18 to pass the supplementary budget.
The protesters, led by Mr Abiodun Ajijola, marched from the Unity Fountain to the main gate of the National Assembly.
They also displayed placards bearing different inscriptions and chanted anti-National Assembly songs.
Security operatives manning the gate prevented the protesters from entering the premises.
They were forced to present letters addressed to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to the security men, in which they advised the National Assembly leaders to use their positions to save Nigeria from anarchy.
They said the actions of the legislators were inimical to stability and progress.
Ajijola said, “It is quite unfortunate and completely unacceptable that the National Assembly is considering postponing its resumption till the second week of October 2019 because its members are going to take part in political party primaries. What is the logic in going for primaries and refusing to conclusively approve the budget for the same election they wish to participate in it?
“If the budget is not passed, we may find ourselves in a state of anarchy. We want the National Assembly to resume to pass the budget so that we can have a smooth election.”
He added, “It is very clear that there is no urgency on the part of the lawmakers to pass the budget, but the Movement for Transparent Elections wants to remind all members of the National Assembly that they were elected to serve in the best interest of Nigerians and not their personal interests.
“INEC has an approved Election Project Plan, which guides it in effective election implementation. With the delay, it would be arduous, if at all possible, to meet all necessary benchmarks within the required timelines. Therefore, there must be no further delay! The current intentional delay in approving the general election budget is precarious for the peace and stability of Nigeria.”
The protesters, therefore, warned that if there was further delay in the passage of the budget beyond September 18, they would be compelled to mobilise Nigerians from all walks of life, particularly from the constituencies of the lawmakers, to embark on a sustained protests, daily and simultaneously nationwide until the budget of INEC and the security agencies were passed.
Ajijola added, “We would also let Nigerians know those who are causing these delays.”