Emerging reports indicate the presidency is pleading with President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Hon. Yakubu Dogara to reconvene the Nationa Assembly and consider urgent matters pending before it.
According to a report monitored on THISDAY NG, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, made the appeal at a press conference in Lagos at the weekend, saying the lawmakers needed to urgently consider some important pending issues in national interest.
The presidential aide said if the National Assembly is not reconvened immediately, it might adversely affect the country, particularly with respect to the 2019 general election, the budget for which is pending before the federal legislature.
But the acrimony between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems determined to jeopardise the presidency’s appeal as both parties remained at each other’s jugular yesterday.
While the PDP accused the APC-led federal government of plotting to forcefully reconvene the National Assembly with a view to effect leadership change, the ruling party insisted that Saraki having defected to the opposition party must step down as the president of the Senate.
However, Enang solicited for peace weekend, saying the quest for the legislature to reconvene was an appeal, not compulsion.
He warned that the lawmakers’ holiday, which began on July 24 and ends on September 5, might stall the allocation of funds to critical sectors of governance and the economy.
The supplementary funds would enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence preparations for the 2019 polls, he said.
Also pending are several key appointments for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Deputy Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Code of Conduct Bureau, among others.
Saraki had announced the adjournment at plenary following a motion on alleged siege to his home and that of the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu by security operatives.
Enang also appealed to party leaders and various caucuses in the National Assembly to prevail on their leadership to reconvene to treat pending pressing issues which needed urgent attention.
He added that though the lawmakers were entitled to holiday and vacation, their rules permit them to reconvene where there are urgent and pressing national issues to deal with.
The report stated that presidential liaison officer contended that the issue of defections of some lawmakers from the APC to the PDP was a political matter that should not affect national issue.
He also said the defections do not affect the credibility and performance of the APC-led federal government.
He said, “In fairness to the National Assembly, they scheduled to consider these matters on the 24, 25 and 26 of July, but certain unforeseen events happened that they had to adjourn. Therefore, they did not deliberately keep these matters and went away.
“The matters include, virements, settlement of appointments, supplementary budget, borrowing plan, INEC fund and so on.
“I want to say that we are appealing to the National Assembly, that we accept that it was not intended by them that the country should suffer. They had made plans to approve this before the exigency that made them to adjourn, but I want to appeal to them, that they should please consider reconvening for the purpose of considering these urgent matters which are capable of making the government not perform and deliver on time.”
Enang noted that if the supplementary budget is not attended to and passed, “the money that is intended to enable INEC to prepare for the 2019 election will not be released and the virement that is supposed to enable funds to be available to other sectors of the economy will not be available and, so, budget cannot really start performing.
“We are appealing to Senate leadership and all caucuses of the National Assembly to see this as a clarion call for the good of the nation.
“As the Liaison Officer between National Assembly and the federal government, I know it is not the intention of the lawmakers to make Nigerians suffer.
“We are not compelling them, we are appealing to them.”