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2019 polls budget: We never agreed to reconvene on Tuesday, August 14 - Lawmakers

2019 polls budget: We never agreed to reconvene on Tuesday, August 14 - Lawmakers

- The much talked about session of the National Assembly supposedly to be held on Tuesday, August 14, has continued to brew reactions from lawmakers across the country

- Some senators claimed that no official notification from the presidency was issued to the Senate demanding for a session

- Sources in the House also said that some lawmakers are out of the country on holiday while others have gone for Hajj

Some lawmakers of the House of Representatives have said that the National Assembly never unanimously resolved to reconvene on Tuesday, August 14, to consider the budget for 2019 general polls.

Abdulrazak Namdas, the chairman, House Committee on media and public affairs, disclosed this to on Monday, August 13, in Abuja, Punch reports.

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He said: “There is no date taken or any agreement reached that members should reconvene on Tuesday. There is no reconvening on Tuesday.”

Namdas explained that whenever a date was taken, the process was to communicate to the bureaucracy of the legislature to reconvene it. “So far, we have not taken a date to reconvene”, he emphasised.

He further said: “It is unlikely that we would resume Tuesday or Wednesday. The entire leadership this time round, not just some, the entire leadership will meet and a definite decision will be taken.

"The National Assembly runs a bicameral legislature and so the heads of the two houses will meet and we would let it be known to Nigerians when exactly the National Assembly will be resuming, but certainly not tomorrow (Tuesday).

“I think because of the exigency of the matter at hand, it is important that we resume together, we are not opposition to one another. We must be working as a body.

"The procedure in the legislature is a little bit cumbersome and that is why I said assuming that we have a different decision altogether, the Senate has a different decision altogether, we still have the conference committee that is put in place so we can sort out our differences. Until our committees meet and present it (the decision), we cannot transmit anything to the Presidency.

It was gathered that some of the lawmakers were said to have travelled out of the country to Europe, while others were in Saudi Arabia for Hajj.

Moreover, speaking with newmen, an unnamed source said: “If a notice of reconvening is to be circulated, this will require giving a gap of at least 48 hours for members to prepare.”

Reports also revealed that the presidency's request to vire over N288 billion from some project sub-heads constitute a challenge that might not be resolved in haste.

Another source stated: “This money was already included in the budgets of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.You will have to bring all the MDAs on board for meetings on how to make the cuts from their proposals. It can’t be done in a hurry like two or three days.”

Punch also gathered that there was the “impeachment threat factor” in the Senate especially where its leadership were said to be uncertain about the real reason behind the pressure to reconvene and the absence of an official notification to that effect.

Confirming the atmosphere of uncertainty in the Senate as to the purpose of the said session, a source informed newsmen: “You know there is still the atmosphere of fear and mutual suspicion among us; if they call for resumption, the Senate President and his Deputy don’t know what may happen to their positions because once they call for the parliament to session, they should be ready to be available every second because now, there is a state of distrust, suspicion and plots.

“From now on, anytime there is a session and you see the seats sparsely populated, there may be something funny in the offing; at this hour, every second counts.”

On his part, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) remarked: “We have not been told to resume. Until we get a notification to resume, we are waiting.

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“However, (let it be known) that you have to be a member of the Senate to change the Senate rules, we will ensure fidelity to our rules, that is what I can tell you; nobody from outside will tell us what to do."

In the same vein, Senator Shehu Sani stated: “If we are to resume, there would have been a formal notification but up till now, there is none.”

Earlier, had reported that the National Assembly was unlikely to reconvene because there had been no official communication about the plan from the clerk of the House, Mohammed Omolori.

The chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu had on Wednesday, August 8, said the commission had been assured by the National Assembly leadership that the 2019 general elections budget of N242 billion might be considered for passage.

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