NASS resumption: Osinbajo, Ahmad, Enang meet; Presidency fears government shut down

Diaspora Day, Osinbajo, Senate LeaderActing President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday met with Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan and the Senior Special Assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang over the possible reconvening of the National Assembly to consider the virement request made by President Muhammadu Buhari.

After the meeting which took place in of the Acting President Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja, the Senate Leader, Lawan told State House correspondents that the meeting centred on the current situation in the Senate.

THe Senate Leader also said that the National Assembly may reconvene in the next few days.

He noted that this is important because the lawmakers’ holiday has stalled the work of government.

The Senate Leader said: “I have come to visit the acting president, you know, this is our administration. I have come to brief him on the situation in the Senate and the discussion also considered the need for national assembly to convene immediately for us to pass the virement on the supplementary budget sent by Mr. President.

ALSO READ: Akpabio visits Tinubu in Abuja

“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.

ALSO READ: Buhari receives Akpabio in London

“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.

“To do otherwise will lead to sabotage this administration, will lead to sabotage of democracy itself because if we cannot provide the essentials for Nigerians if we cannot provide funds for INEC to plan for the 2019 elections, what do we call ourselves?”

Asked what would be the next should the Principal Officers of the Legislature fail to reconvene the National Assembly, the Senate Leader, after the meeting with Acting President Osinbajo stated: “The presiding officers are people like you and I. They are Nigerians, they listen or 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.

“So, 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.”

Ahmad said he was not aware of any attempt by some All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmakers to break into the Senate in an attempt to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki.

“I am hearing it for the first time, there is a process going into that chamber, I didn’t hear it before that some senators attempted to break into that chamber.

“Possibly, you must have the names of senators but I want to tell you that we are law-abiding and that we will do everything possible in the national interest but we will try to keep within our processes and our procedures,” he stated.

In his remark after meeting with Osinbajo, Enang alerted that the federal government faces the possibility of a shutdown if the National Assembly does not reconvene soon.

He said the money from the legislature needs to approve the loan needed to fund the 2018 budget as according to him, Federation Account can not sustain it.

He added: “Just in line with what the Senate Leader had 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 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 of the capital component is not enough to sustain even the 15 or 20 per cent 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.”