- Saraki, Dogara give panel 24-hour deadline to submit clean copy
By Adetutu Folasade- Koyi and Fred Itua, Abuja
SENATE President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, have raised a joint committee that would finally resolve grey areas in the N6.06 trillion 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The committee comprises members from the Senate and House of Representatives was set up less than 24 hours after Saraki and Dogara met with President Muhammadu Buhari, his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
Other officials present at the Tuesday night meeting were Saraki’s deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun; Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; and other leaders of the National Assembly.
Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang and the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawu, also attended the meeting.
The joint committee, Daily Sun learnt, have only “24 hours to fine-tune the grey areas in the Appropriation Bill that would be forwarded to the president for assent next week.
“Already, we have given the president our word that the grey areas would be addressed. We have set to work. In fact, our mandate is to work round the clock and produce a clean copy by today,” said a source close to the committee.
It was gathered that the two chambers of the National Assembly decided to set up a small committee to quickly review the contents of the budget, make necessary amendments in line with the decisions reached at the various reconciliation meetings with the executive.
The National Assembly team expectedly worked in close concert with another team from the executive, to fast-track the process and hopefully, conclude work tomorrow, it was learnt.
Indications that the National Assembly was committed to resolving the impasse emerged yesterday when Senate met behind closed doors before plenary.
Rising from the session, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said the session was to deliberate on the Appropriation Bill and expressed hope that Buhari would sign the budget soon.
Buhari’s meeting with the National Assembly leaders lasted only 10 minutes on Tuesday night.
At the end of the meeting, Saraki told newsmen that the lawmakers came to inform the president and his team of the solutions they had found to the budget impasse.
He said both sides agreed on the way forward and assured Nigerians that the process would be completed in a matter of days.
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.
“We have agreed to work together to resolve all issues in the next few days and we have also agreed on the modalities of doing so. It was a very good meeting, very positive. Within the next few days, all matters will be resolved,” the minister said.