N/Assembly leaders meet today over election budget

The leaders of the National Assembly will meet today over the N242bn budget for the 2019 general elections.

The two chambers of the National Assembly had on July 24 embarked on a 2-month annual recess without considering and approving the election budget submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari a week earlier.

There has been pressure on Senate President Bukola Saraki to reconvene the National Assembly ever since the lawmakers embarked ‎on the recess.

“The National Assembly leadership has decided to meet with the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to iron out things,” .

He said the meeting with INEC leadership, billed for today, will be preceded by that of the National Assembly leaders slated for noon.

Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity Yusuph Olaniyonu confirmed that the two meetings would take place today.

There are 10 leaders in each of the two chambers, making them 20, with four presiding officers, namely Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker.

Each of the chambers also has Majority Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Leader, Deputy ‎Whip, Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.

Another source confirmed that although the National Assembly is under pressure to reconvene and consider the election budget and other national issues, there is no such possibility. He said the meeting would only be focused on how INEC could use the available funds at its disposal before September 25, when the lawmakers would reconvene.

It was learnt that even if the issue of reconvening the National Assembly comes up, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), among the principal officers, would not accept it.

“The meeting is for possible reconvening, but there’s a procedure. For us to reconvene, all political parties have to agree, but PDP will never agree. That’s the truth.

“However, once we reconvene in September, we’ll give the INEC budget speedy consideration. Nobody among us wants the election budget to be delayed, because it will affect us too. So, all these speculations about plans by the National Assembly to delay or not approve the election budget are not true,”‎ the source said.

It was also learnt that INEC had indicated that it has funds to use between now and the recess period, pending the approval of the National Assembly.

Apart from the issue of INEC budget, there are fears that senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may force a leadership change once the Senate is reconvened before September 25 following Saraki’s defection to the PDP.

It is not clear if Minority Leader Sen Godswill Akpabio, who was reported to be planning to defect to the APC in the next few days, will attend the leadership meeting.

Presidency raises alarm over impending govt shutdown

The Presidency said yesterday that the government may shutdown over the delay in the passage of the supplementary and virement request of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, stated this to State House Correspondents after he and the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, met the acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House yesterday.

“You remember that we passed the budget with understanding that the greater amount of it would be gotten by foreign loans. Although this was approved that there would be loans, amount to be gotten was not approved.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act requires that the President should specifically state the amount the government want to get from foreign loans and present it before the National Assembly. That letter has been presented to the National Assembly and the National Assembly has to pass that amount before the money could be obtained from foreign financing institutions.

“This is what we are asking and if it didn’t happen in the next few months, we may have a complete government shutdown. What we are receiving from the federation accounts as the federal government share the capital component is not enough to sustain even the 15 or 20 percent of the budget. So there may be a complete government shutdown and I know that Nigerians are not going to like it. That is why we are still appealing,” he said.

Our recess stalling govt activities – Senate leader

Corroborating Enang’s statement, Lawan said their recess was stalling government activities, urging his colleagues to reconvene.

“I have come to brief him [Osinbajo] on the situation in the Senate and the discussion for the National Assembly to reconvene immediately for us to pass the virement and supplementary budget request of Mr. President.

“You know that the budget for 2018 would be largely funded, especially the capital aspect by foreign facilities, loans. Now, we need to approve that and we also need to approve other important and essential request especially that of INEC and other security agencies for our security to be improved.

“It is therefore very essential that we reconvene immediately to look into the issues because our government is almost stalled. And I believe that if we are able to pass the supplementary budget and virement request of Mr. President this would enable our administration to provide the various infrastructure that we have planned to provide for Nigerians and also the other aspect of national development,” he said.

Lawan said any further delay in reconvening the National Assembly would amount to sabotage of the government and democracy.

“To do otherwise would be to sabotage this administration, would be to sabotage democracy itself because if we cannot provide the essentials for Nigerians, if we cannot provide funds for INEC to plan the 2019 elections, what do we call ourselves? Certainly, we know for the case of INEC, we know INEC could pick some items on the shelves but there are so many important items that it has to order that would take two or three months.

“It is also important that whatever the crisis we have in the Senate and indeed in the National Assembly that Nigerians don’t suffer. We, as politicians can do anything. It is a parliamentary practice, in fact in Parliament worst things could happen but the Parliaments that are responsible and responsive would always take into account the national interest, work assiduously to ensure that the country does not suffer,” he said.

“If we don’t reconvene and pass the request what that means is that we have turned against this country. We are stalling the administration and invariably fighting the people,” he said.

Lawan appealed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Reps Speaker Yakubu Dogara to do “the needful” and reconvene the two chambers of the National Assembly to give us the opportunity to pass the virement and supplementary budget request of the president as quickly as possible.”

N/Assembly leaders meet today over election budget N/Assembly leaders meet today over election budget Reviewed by AbuZahra Ahmad on August 06, 2018 Rating: 5

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