•NASS leaders resolve grey areas
• Crisis’ll end this week –G77 senators
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Finally, after weeks of uncertainty, President Muhammadu Buhari will sign the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget next week.
Bihari met with leaders of the National Assembly last night and said all “grey areas in the budget had been resolved” after meeting for just 10 minutes.
The meeting, which was held inside the First Lady’s Conference Room, started at about 9.20pm and ended around 9.30pm.
Those who attended the meeting included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun; Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; and other leaders of the National Assembly.
Buhari and Dogora had earlier in the day met for 30 minutes. He did not speak with newsmen then. The president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), senator Ita Enang; and his counterpart in the House, Hon. Samaila Kawu, also attended last night’s meeting.
After the meeting, Saraki told newsmen that lawmakers went to inform the president and his team of solutions to the budget impasse.
Sarai said both sides agreed on the way forward and assured Nigerians that the process would be completed in a matter of days.
“We came to let them know some of the solutions that we found in moving the budget process forward and we are happy to say that we have agreed on the way forward. We believe that this process will be completed in matter of days, rather than weeks.
“So, it is good to Nigerians and all of us; we have found a way forward and in a matter of days, the budget will be ready for the president’s assent.”
Asked to be specific on the way forward that they arrived at, Saraki replied: “We have committees that have been set up on our side and also, on the Executive side. We will engage over the next few days, to tidy up a few loose ends here and there and the outcome will be satisfactory to everybody.”
The Senate President refused to be specific on the day of the week the budget would be signed. “You heard what I said; t is a matter of days and not weeks. So, you can start counting the days which means that between now and Monday or Tuesday. I’m hopeful that the budget will be signed.”
Udoma also confirmed to reporters that the executive had agreed with the legislature to resolve all grey areas and the modalities of doing so in the next few days.
The minister said, “We have agreed to work together to resolve all issues in the next few days and we have also agreed on the modalities of or doing so.
“It was a very good meeting, very positive and, within the next few days, all issues would be resolved.
“We are working together, both the executive and the legislature, to sort those things out. Within the next days, all matters will be resolved.”
Meanwhile, a group of senators, called G77 in the Eighth Senate, declared yesterday that the impasse would come to end latest Friday. Briefing newsmen after the first meeting of the group yesterday, its chairman, Akpabio said the group, being the majority in the Senate, was not formed to fight Buhari, but to support him in giving Nigerians good governance. “This is a maiden attempt to brief the press on the G77 that you have been hearing about. It is true that a group like that has emerged in the senate. And, it is important for us to let you know that the group’s intention is to deepen democracy. And, to ensure good governance and also ensure that we shore up the image of the senate and redirect affairs with our great numbers, so that, at the end of the day, Nigerians can get more dividends of democracy from this administration.
“All social media reports that are thinking that this group is meant to confront the executive or ranking senators are not true.
“The lingering issue on the budget is something that we feel is embarrassing to Nigeria, not just to the national assembly as a whole. If we had a group like this, by now that issue would have been brought to an end. But just to reassure you that Mr President will have his budget. And we are doing everything possible to rejig the details of the 2016 budget for Mr President to sign as soon as possible. And, we hope we can finish that by this Friday so that things can kick-start in the Nigerian economy.”