Fred Itua, Abuja
Following the abortion of the much-touted National Assembly reconvening, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and senators of the ruling party, last night met in Abuja, for the fifth time since his emergence in June.
Although the meeting was still ongoing at press time, it was gathered that the issue of Bukola Saraki and his continuous stay in office as Senate President as well as plans to stop more APC lawmakers from defecting, dominated discussions.
Beside Oshiomhole and the APC senators, top security agents were alleged to have attended the meeting, which held in Abuja.
Last week Oshiomhole met with the APC senators on the eve of the invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS). A few days before that, he and the senators also met with President Muhammadu Buhari. Meanwhile, anxiety enveloped the National Assembly following the suspension of the reconvening of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Daily Sun gathered that the leadership of both chambers are of the view that the possibility of the planned emergency sitting, which was widely believed to have been fixed for this week, may not work.
It was gathered that to consider and pass the N242 billion request by President Buhari would take the National Assembly at least one month to conclude.
“The request by President Muhammadu Buhari is not just a single line item that would just require a one day sitting. The request has variety of committees that would be involved, including the Appropriations, Finance, INEC and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“It is different from a situation whereby the president is asking for an increase in the size of the budget through a change of benchmark. The assignment required in respect of that letter from the president is not something that can be done in one day,” the source said.
According to the source, the National Assembly cannot achieve anything even if it was reconvened this week, as it has to be passed to the committees, which in turn would have to meet with he various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“Besides, there is another issue that has to do with the constituency projects. The letter is requesting the lawmakers to remove funds from their constituency projects and use the same to fund INEC. Remember that the constituency projects are not one line items in the budget. You can’t imagine how long it would take the Appropriations Committees to sort out that issue with the MDAs,” another source stated.
“Reconvening the National Assembly will not really work. It would mean that you want to keep the lawmakers around for the next one month, which defeats the idea of the annual recess. The letter by the president is not just requesting for an increase in benchmark, which can be handled in one day through Senate or House resolution. Treating the letter will take two to three weeks,” the source said.
Another source close to the leadership of the National Assembly further stated that the logistics of securing a quorum of either the Senate or the House was becoming increasing.
“Many of our colleagues have travelled for Hajj. Many are in their constituencies battling the challenges of re-election. If you check even with the APC right now, they can’t get up to 30 senators and next week is Sallah, Arafat is on Monday and you will have holidays,” the source added.