Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has assured that President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in appointing ministers will not affect the preparation and presentation of 2020 Appropriation Bill.
Lawan spoke with State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting he and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had with President Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Senator Lawan said that budget is usually prepared by civil servants, adding that as long as it comes in by September, it will be passed by the first week of December.
According to him, if passed in December, it will be ready for presidential assent by January, thereby achieving the January – December cycle.
Lawan also pledged speedy confirmation of nominations by the president, in contrast with what obtained in the immediate past Senate.
The Senate President and Speaker arrived the Villa hours after the Senate confirmed the Mohammed Tanko as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria,
Speaking on why the delay in ministerial appointment will not affect January to – December budget cycle, Lawan said: “I think there is nothing to worry us deeply. The budget itself is normally prepared by civil servants – the permanent secretaries superintend and the directors will work most of the time. I believe that we are still on course and I believe both the executive and the legislature are on the same page on this, we desire and are prepared and determined to pass the budget by the first or second week of December by the grace of God, provided it is presented to us by the end of September.”
Harping on the need for lawmakers-presidency relationship, Lawan said that just like Yanko’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate without delay, similar nominations from the president will be treated speedily, beginning with the confirmation of the directors of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday.
He said: “In fact, tomorrow we are going to confirm some directors of the NCC. What we did today is to set the tone of what will be coming in the future. That is to say we will be confirming the nominees from Mr. President because that will really ensure that the country is properly governed and the CJN confirmation was a fantastic way to start the confirmation process and we are very happy we are able to confirm him today having received the letter of request from Mr. President only last week.”
The Senate President said the discussion centred on “those things that will ensure that the people of Nigeria are better protected, the economy of Nigeria performs better to the inclusion of everyone in the country, that governance generally is set to achieve the set targets of providing security and welfare for Nigerians.
“We are going to collaborate and cooperate with the executive arm of government, work together to ensure we find better approaches, improved paradigm to ensure the current situation is addressed appropriately.”
He said the security summit will be a collaboration between the two arms of government. “And this is essential because while we provide the legislative intervention that is required, the executive arm of government is the one that implements. So we have to work together and we will do that.”
Also speaking to journalists, Gbajabiamila affirmed that Section 11 of the Constitution would be invoked by the House of Representatives to take over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly within the next one week if the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, does not issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration to resolve the lingering crisis in the state Assembly.
The Speaker said: “As you know, we set an Adhoc committee; the members went to Edo State; the report was laid and considered today and the context of the report is very clear. I think what we did was to stick strictly to the rule or by the law that guides the Assembly and us as lawmakers.
“So one of the recommendations which I believed was approved by the House was for us to have a proper proclamation with date, venue and time which was missing in the first proclamation. They (Edo House of Assembly) have about a week to come up with the proper election of the principal officers. If in a week nothing changes, perhaps the House and the National Assembly as a whole would look at invoking Section 11 of the Constitution.”
Asked what if the governor disagrees with them, Gbajabiamila said: “If every party, every player was consulted, all sides were I heard, I don’t think we should go down that route and say if the governor decides, that’s not a decision for anybody to make. The governor is somebody I know and I believe he will operate within the confines of the law and dictate of the law and National Assembly and all other laws. So I don’t think we should pre-empt the governor.”
On Bauchi House of Assembly, he said: “We are waiting but I believe they concluded today. The members who went to Bauchi would be back or are on their way back to Abuja and I will wait until I get the report.”