The Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, at the weekend urged the National Assembly to reconvene to consider “urgent matters of national importance” pending before it.
Among these are the approval of a supplementary budget to fund the 2018 budget and the virement request by President Muhammadu Buhari to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) begin preparations for the 2019 polls.
Also pending is the clearance for appointments into critical positions.
Enang warned that the lawmakers’ holiday, which began on July 24 to end on September 5, might stall the allocation of funds to critical sectors of governance and the economy.
Speaking in Lagos, he listed the pending key appointments as those in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and Code of Conduct Bureau, among others.
Senate President Bukola Saraki announced the adjournment at plenary the day he read letters of defection by some senators following a motion on the alleged siege to his and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu’s houses by security operatives.
The House of Representatives also went on recess same day after reading letters of defection by some lawmakers.
Enang noted that although the lawmakers planned their vacation to coincide with the school holidays so that members can spend time with their children, there were exceptional grounds for the holiday calendar to be adjusted.
He said: “In fairness to the National Assembly, they scheduled to consider these matters on the 24th, 25th and 25th of July, i.e. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but certain unforeseen events happened that they had to adjourn. Therefore, they did not deliberately keep these matters and went away.
“The matters include virements, settlement of appointments, supplementary budget, borrowing plan, INEC fund and so on.
“I want to say that we are appealing to the National Assembly, that we accept that it was not intended by them that the country should suffer. They had made plans to approve this before the exigency that made them to adjourn, but I want to appeal to them, 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.”
Enang noted that if the supplementary budget was not passed, “the money that is intended to enable INEC to prepare for the 2019 election will not be released and the virement that is supposed to enable funds to be available to other sectors of the economy will not be available and, so, budget cannot really start performing.
“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 Liason 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. As a liason officer between the Presidency and the NASS, my duty is to make sure that both arms stay together and work in harmony.”
On lawmakers defections, Enang explained that it had nothing to do with the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the issues for defection were personal and domestic to the political actors.
He said the defections were no sign that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was divided.
Enang said: “There is no division in the All Progressives Congress that is known to law and there is no division along the line, R APC was generated to justify the action of the defectors.”
According to him, the defections are perennial and usually happen in election when where politicians look for platforms to achieve their aspirations.
“In all the defections, they have maintained that they do not have problems with the Federal Government.
‘There is too much competition within the major political parties. Politicians study the platforms and would not want to be where they may not get the tickets, especially for those seeking re-election.
“Some need automatic tickets, but their parties may say no.
“Defections are not a sign of anything to worry about in a political party. None of the defectors is complaining about executive treatment of their people, but about winning nominations.”