Wednesday 27 April 2016

Presidency and National Assembly reach truce over controversial 2016 budget

President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday night rose from a 10-minute meeting, saying all grey areas in the 2016 Budget had been resolved.

The meeting which was held inside the 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; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy President of the Senate, 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.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; the 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.

At the end of the meeting, Saraki told State House correspondents that the lawmakers came to inform the President and his team of the solutions they had found to the budget impasse.

Tuesday night’s meeting followed an earlier meeting between Buhari and Dogara at the Presidential Villa.

Saraki explained that both sides agreed on the way forward and assured Nigerians that the process would be completed in a matter of days.
He said, “We just finished a meeting with the President and the Vice-President. 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.”
When asked to be specific on the way forward that they arrived at, Saraki said, “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 just tidy up a few loose ends and here and there and the outcome will be satisfactory to everybody.”
When also asked to be specific of the budget would be signed this week, he said, “You heard what I have said. I said it 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 will 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.”

Credit: Olalekan Adetayo/Punch

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