Finally, the National Assembly will reconvene on Tuesday, next week, after days of being under pressure to do so.
The agenda will primarily be the supplementary budget and virement proposals President Muhammadu Buhari laid before lawmakers before they embarked on their current annual recess last month.
The bulk of the proposals will go into funding the 2019 elections’ preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yusuff Lasun, disclosed the reconvening date on Thursday after a meeting of the All Progressives Congress caucus of the House.
The caucus had met for over four hours earlier, beginning from 2 pm, to review Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of State Services operatives.
The Majority Leader of the House and leader of the caucus, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, led the APC members to the meeting.
However, at a post-meeting press conference, it was Lasun who addressed a question on whether the National Assembly would reconvene.
Recall that on Wednesday, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, had met with the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, to deliberate on the urgency of the elections’ budget.
Lasun stated, “Yes, there was a meeting with the INEC chairman. A decision was reached.
“So, we are likely to reconvene on Tuesday or Wednesday next week to address that issue (INEC budget).”
However, Lasun clarified that the National Assembly was on a “lawful recess” and not that lawmakers abandoned their duties as had been portrayed in some quarters.
“First, let me state here that the recess is part of our calender. It is a lawful recess.
“It was not like we ran away from our duties. That erroneous impression must be corrected,” he added.
On his part, Gbajabiamila spoke elaborately on the position of the caucus on the invasion of the National Assembly by the DSS.
He stated that the caucus, having reviewed the incident, condemned it and commended the Presidency for the immediate step of sacking the former Director-General of the DSS, Mr Lawal Daura.
He said the caucus also held that Buhari had no hand in the invasion, based on the information at the disposal of members.
Gbajabiamila added that there were so many conflicting accounts thrown around about the incident, a reason the caucus supported the decision of the Presidency to conduct a thorough investigation and come up with its findings.
“The President was not part of it, and the moment he heard about it, he acted swiftly.
“So, let us hold all other comments until the investigation is concluded,” he said.
The majority leader said the caucus expressed displeasure over the manner the rival Peoples Democratic Party caucus tried to politicise the incident as though its members were the only lovers of democracy.
“Nobody will support what happened here on Tuesday. The PDP should not use this to malign the APC or the President,” he said.
The caucus also raised the issue of Buhari’s re-election in 2019, saying that the APC had picked him as the “unopposed” candidate of the party.
Lasun, who expatiated on the matter, explained that the APC, being the party with the majority in the House, was strong enough to work for the President as a caucus.
He made a veiled reference to the Parliamentary Support Group, a group spearheaded by a member from Kano State, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, saying that no group within the caucus could speak better for Buhari than the caucus itself.
“The APC is still the party with the majority and as a caucus, we are with the President. We are with him on his decision to re-contest.
“Nigerians should see the APC as the party of choice. Buhari has been chosen, technically, as the unopposed candidate of the party.
“So, as a caucus, the APC is big enough to support the President. No other group can do it better. He is our own,” Lasun added.
Credit: Punch Newspapers
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