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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Saraki, Dogara, Other National Assembly Leaders Hold Emergency Meeting Today

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The leadership of the National Assembly has summoned an emergency meeting for Tuesday (today).

The Special Assistant to the Senate President on International Relations, Bankole Omisore, called the meeting via his Twitter handle on Monday.
The tweet reads, “NASS leadership will tomorrow meet at noon to consider some national issues. The National Assembly leadership comprises both @NGRSenate and @HouseNGR.
“It will be followed by another meeting with the leadership of @inecnigeria led by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu.”
It was gathered that the meeting, which will be attended by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and the principal officers of both chambers would be briefed by INEC on the 2019 general elections.
It was further gathered that the leadership would also discuss the recent defections, which had generated controversies in both chambers.
There had been rumours earlier on Monday that the National Assembly might reconvene on Tuesday, suspending its ongoing two-month annual recess. But a source at the Senate dismissed the resumption reports, stating that it was a leadership meeting and not plenary.
The source said, “Yes, a joint leadership meeting has been called for 12 noon tomorrow. The meeting is on the current issues in the National Assembly, all the issues.
“By 1pm, chairman of INEC and other leaders of the commission will join the meeting to brief the National Assembly on the preparations for the 2019 general elections.”
Meanwhile, members of the Parliamentary Democrats Group have said that the Senate and the House will reconvene only after getting assurances that there will be no attempts to remove the leadership of the National Assembly.
The spokesman for the PDG, Mr Timothy Golu, in a statement on Monday, said lawmakers would be briefed on the outcome of the meeting of the leadership on whether to reconvene or not.
The statement read, “Our leaders are meeting to brief us on the appeal by the Presidency for us to reconvene. There must be assurances that no illegality will be attempted against any of our leaders.
“We are worried by the statements from some anti-Saraki senators like Adamu Abdullahi and Ali Ndume to the fact that the Senate President must be changed.
“Talks are ongoing and as long as there is no threat to our democratic peace, we can reconvene to attend to issues.
“We want peace and stability for our democracy to grow and produce more good fruits. If among ourselves we are found guilty of any form of sabotage for personal reasons, then we are not fair to the people.”
The group noted that only lawmakers could decide among themselves to change their leadership and not through interference by the executive arm.
“The legislature is an independent arm of government and as legislators, nobody can dictate to us. So, we advise the Presidency and the ruling APC to allow us to decide our fate.
“Our presiding officers are doing well and we have no cause to complain. Those stoking embers of discord in the parliament should kindly stay off,” the PDG said.
Senate leader urges immediate resumption as Enang fears govt shutdown
But even as the National Assembly leadership planned its emergency meeting, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, on Monday stressed the need for the National Assembly to reconvene immediately in order to address some requests made by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He told State House correspondents that the need for the federal lawmakers to reconvene from their ongoing vacation formed part of the discussion he had with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “I have come to brief him (Osinbajo) on the situation in the Senate and the discussion also considered the need for the National Assembly to reconvene immediately for us to pass the virement on the supplementary budget presented by Mr President.
“You know that the budget for 2018, the capital aspect will be largely funded by foreign facilities, loans. Now we need to approve that.
“We also need to approve other important and essential requests, 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 those issues because our government is almost stalled and I believe that if we are able to pass the supplementary budget and virement request from Mr President, this will enable our administration to provide the various infrastructure that we have planned to provide for Nigerians and also all the other aspects of national development.”
Lawan said to do otherwise would lead to sabotage of the administration and democracy.
He wondered how the lawmakers would describe themselves if they cannot provide essential things for Nigerians and provide funds for INEC to plan for the 2019 elections.
When asked what will happen if the presiding officers fail to reconvene the Senate, Lawan said, “The presiding officers are people like you and I; they are Nigerians, they should listen.
“So, I don’t even want to contemplate that the presiding officers will say they will not reconvene the chambers of the National Assembly based on the fundamental and primary request of Mr President of passing the budget.
“I believe that the presiding officers should do the needful to reconvene the two chambers of the National Assembly to give us the opportunity to pass the supplementary budget and virement request of Mr President as quickly as possible.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, restated his appeal to the National Assembly to suspend its ongoing vacation in the national interest.
He said if the federal lawmakers failed to approve the request soon, it might lead to complete government shutdown.
Enang said, “We are still appealing to the National Assembly to reconvene. You remember that we passed the budget with the understanding that the greater amount of it would be sourced from foreign loans.
“Although it was approved that there would be loans, amount to be sourced was not approved. The Fiscal Responsibility Act requires that the President should specifically state the amount the government wants 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.”
He added, “This is what we are asking and if it did not happen in the next few months, we may have a complete government shutdown. What we are receiving from the federation account as the Federal Government share of the capital component is not enough to sustain even the 15 or 20 per cent of the budget.”
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