After shunning a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the afternoon, leaders of the National Assembly late on Tuesday met with him and agreed on ways to resolve the current Budget impasse. The late evening meeting had in attendance, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who had shunned the afternoon meeting, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Also present was the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma. The meeting lasted for only 10 minutes.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, told State House correspondents after the meeting that they have all agreed on the way forward, the process will be completed and the budget will be signed in a matter of days. He explained that the budget process is usually not easy but that they have found the way forward and in a matter of days the budget would be ready for the President’s assent.
Dr. Saraki further explained that the committees set up on the executive and legislative sides will engage in the next few days to tidy up the loose ends and come up with what will satisfy everybody. Earlier, the meeting between leaders of the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari meant to resolve the 2016 budget impasse failed to hold, as only the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara turned up at the Presidential Villa venue. President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and other leaders of the National Assembly expected at the meeting with the President did not turn up. Saraki is currently standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in a 13-count charge of false assets declaration.
He is challenging CCT’s jurisdiction to try him at the Court of Appeal, contending that his trial lacks due process as he was not invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau to make a statement as required by law. His absence at the parley with the President may not be unconnected with his CCT trial which he has alleged, in an open letter he wrote last weekend, was not only because he defied the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to emerge as Senate President, but mainly because of an ‘original sin’ of opposing the idea MuslimMuslim ticket for his party in the 2015 Presidential election which truncated the ambition of some party leaders.
The relationship between the Senate and the Presidency has not been too cordial since Saraki was arraigned before the CCT, and the trial is believed to be a factor in the current Budget crisis. Dogara held a closed-door meeting the President at the Villa at about 2pm. The meeting lasted 30 minutes after which the Speaker left. State House correspondents were prevented by security operatives from interacting with him as he walked to his and was driven off.
An official at the Presidency told State House correspondents that the meeting did not hold because other principal members of the National Assembly including the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, were not present. A couple of minutes after Dogara’s departure, two Presidential aides, Ita Enang and Abike Dabiri emerged from the office of the president and were followed closely from behind by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari. Kyari, however, stopped to ask what was amiss as newsmen were complaining aloud about their mistreatment.
He told the angry newsmen that the meeting of the National Assembly leadership that they were waiting to cover was not what took place. Buhari had last week sent a letter detailing the grey areas in the 2016 Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly that he wants the leadership of the federal legislature to review.
Meanwhile, a newly formed group of 77 first timer senators in the 8th Senate, otherwise known as G77, on Tuesday declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari, stating all the same that the 2016 budget impasse between the National Assembly and the Presidency would come to end latest by Friday this week. Briefing the media after the first meeting of the group, it’s Chairman, Senator Godwill Akpabio said the group being the majority in the Senate, will ensure that all differences between the