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Presidency pleads with National Assembly to call off its recess – is it a setup?


Presidency pleads with National Assembly to call off its recess – is it a setup?

Aso Rock wants Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to reconvene the National Assembly in order to consider urgent matters of national importance.

Lawmakers went on holiday on July 24, a day that saw the defection of dozens of senators and House members. They are expected to resume on September 5.

“I want to say that we are appealing to the National Assembly… 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,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, said at a press conference last weekend.

What is so urgent that the Presidency needs lawmakers to call of their recess?

The presidency listed a few pending issues:

  1. Virement/Supplementary Budget: A week before the lawmakers went on recess, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to them asking that they re-allocate N228 billion from the N578 billion which they allegedly inserted into the 2018 budget. Buhari requested that N164 billion be allocated to INEC for the conduct of the 2019 elections, while another N64 billion which was cut from certain critical projects should be reinstated.
  2.  Key appointments: The Presidency, which has been traditionally slow in filling vacant positions in the government, also said that it is important for the lawmakers to reconvene in order to consider Pres. Buhari’s nominees for some key appointments like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Deputy Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Code of Conduct Bureau, among others.
  3. Borrowing plan: The national assembly is also expected to approve the FG’s borrowing plan.

Quote: Ita Enang – “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.”

But is it a set-up?

No doubt, the matters raised by the presidency are urgent and important. Whether the national assembly heeds to the call and reconvenes would however depend on whether the lawmakers trust the president and the ruling party, APC. Since lawmakers defected in large numbers from the APC to the PDP, there have been allegations of plots being hatched by the presidency and the APC to impeach the senate president.

The APC Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said the party would encourage its lawmakers to use their numerical strength to remove the Senate president.

“The APC still commands the majority in both houses. Since Saraki has gone back to where he came from, he cannot preside over majority APC lawmakers. Therefore, we will use our numerical strength to remove him following the rule of law,” he said.

However the party does not have the required two-thirds majority to effect an impeachment, leading to fears that the party may resort to using arm-twisting strategies.

That is definitely going to factor in the decision of the National Assembly on whether to reconvene or not.

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