Just in: Saraki, Dogara: Why we cannot reconvene the National Assembly now

Just in: Saraki, Dogara: Why we cannot reconvene the National Assembly now

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 8:35 am

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Reps Speaker Yakubu Dogara

The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara have given reasons why they cannot reconvene the National Assembly to consider the budget for the 2019 elections and other pending issues on their table from the presidency.

They gave the explanation in a joint statement they issued in the early hours of Tuesday.

The statement was signed by their media aides, Yusuph Olaniyonu for Saraki and Turaki Hassan for Dogara.

In the statement, Saraki and Dogara said: “The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, have directed that we inform all Senators, Honorable members and the public that a date has not been set for the reconvening of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2019 elections budget request forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 17, 2018.

“The leadership of the two chambers had met and agreed to reconvene to consider the proposal this week before which a meeting between the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC must have held on or before Monday August 13, 2018.

“The joint committees were also expected to meet with the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, Loans and Debts on the Eurobond loan request after which two reports would have been ready for presentation in the two chambers.

However, no such meeting had taken place yet as a result of which both Senate and House of Representatives cannot reconvene as there is no report to consider.

“Until the Committees have a ready report for the consideration of the two chambers, it will be most irresponsible to recall members from recess especially those that may have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.”

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Saraki on July 17, read President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for Senate’s approval of N242.45 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission to enable it to commence preparations for 2019 general elections.

Part of the funds, according to the President’s request, will be given to the Department of State Services and other security agencies for the same purpose.

The request was contained in a letter dated July 11 and personally signed by Buhari.

The letter, which was read by Saraki at plenary, indicated that Buhari requested that out of the needed figure, N164.10 billion should be provided through virement or supplementation of 2018 Budget.

It also requested that the balance of N78.34 billion, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided for in the 2019 budget.

The sum of N189.21 billion was earmarked for INEC, N4.3 billion for Office of the Security Adviser, N12.21 billion for DSS and N3.6 billion for Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The Nigeria Police Force got a proposal of N30.5 billion while N2.6 billion was earmarked for Nigeria Immigration Service.

Specifically, the president requested that N164.10 billion of total funds proposed for the elections should be funded from the N578.31 billion inserted in the 2018 Budget by the National Assembly.

Also to be funded from the “inserted funds’’, he stated, was additional N64.75 billion for reinstatement of critical project cuts in 2018 budget, bringing total figure to get from the “inserted funds’’ to N228.85 billion.

The letter stated that the request to deduct N228.85 billion from the N578.31 billion was in view of fiscal constraint, which would not allow for over-burdening of the 2018 budget.

The Senate however proceeded on its annual vacation without considering the budget on 24 July.

Meanwhile, Section 12 of the Senate Standing Rule 2015(as amended) states in part, that for the senate to reconvene on a date other than the adjourned date, the leaders of the political Parties in the Senate, must present the matter to the President of the Senate.

It further notes that the matter must be in public interest to make the Senate meet on an earlier or a later date or time than that one which it stands adjourned.

The President of the Senate may thereafter, give notice accordingly, and the Senate shall meet on the date and at the time stated in the notice.

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