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Published On: Mon, Aug 6th, 2018

N242bn virement: Reconvene now, presidency urges NASS

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By Ese Awhotu with agency report

The Presidency has appealed to the National Assembly to reconvene, as urgent matters pending before it may affect the running of Nigeria and matters affecting Nigerians.
The appeal was made by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, at a news conference in Lagos, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
The Senate which adjourned sitting for the next two months on July 24 is expected to reconvene on September 25th.
Recall that the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki announced the adjournment at plenary following a motion on the siege on Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by security operatives.
However, there were some pending urgent issues before the adjournment which included the approval of a supplementary budget to fund the 2018 budget and the 2019 general elections.
Enang said that although the Senate had lined up those matters before the adjournment, there was need for them to resume because of the urgency required for the approval.
“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 NASS and the Federal Government, I know it is not the intention of the lawmakers to make Nigerians suffer.
“The NASS vacation is usually planned to coincide with school vacations, so that members can spend time with their children. However, this is an election year and the budget has just been appended to; hence the urgent need to give approval for supplementary funds for it.
“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,” Enang said.
President Buhari had sought National Assembly’s approval of funds for the cuts made by lawmakers in the 2018 budget as well as the 2019 general elections.
These were the key issues raised by Buhari in a letter entitled ‘Request for Virement and Supplementary Budget’addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and read at plenary on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
Other government agencies and establishments listed on the request for funds for the 2019 general elections include; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Office to the National Security Advised (NSA), Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Securities and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
Also pending are several key appointments for the EFCC, ICPC, Deputy CBN Governor and AMCON, among others.
“As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair election, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations.
“INEC and the security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests and these have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation. The aggregate cost of the election is estimated at N254,445, 322,600.
“However, in line with the prevailing fiscal conditions, I’m proposing that the sum of N164, 104, 792, 65 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget. I propose that the balance of N78,340, 530, 535 mostly related to personnel allowances, fueling and other costs not required until election proper be provided in their 2019 budget.”
NAN reports that on the defections in the house, 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.
According to him, the defections are perennial and usually happens in election years 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 for tickets outside,” he added.

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