*pledges speedy confirmation of President’s nominees
By Chesa Chesa
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa where they assured anxious Nigerians that Buhari’s delay in appointing members of his cabinet would not stop the passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
Their visit to the Villa came just hours after the Senate confirmed the Mohammed Tanko as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, with Lawan pledging to speed up more nominations by the President, in contrast with what obtained in the immediate past Senate.
Emerging from the meeting with the President, Lawan, while answering questions from State House correspondents, explained that civil servants did the bulk of the work on Budget preparation before presentation to the National Assembly for passage.
Hence, the absence of new Ministers in Buhari’s cabinet would not adversely affect the 2020 Budget if the Executive presents it by September, said the Senate President, who further assured that the lawmakers would equally pass it into law before year end.
His words: “I think there is nothing to worry us deeply. The Budget itself is normally prepared by civil servants, the Permanent Secretaries superintend and the Directors will work most of the time.
“I believe that we are still on course and I believe both the Executive and the Legislature are on the same page on this. We are desirous and are prepared and determined to pass the Budget by the first and second week of December by the grace of God, provided it is presented to us by end of September.”
Harping on the need for lawmakers’ smoother relations with the Presidency, Lawan said that just like Tanko’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate without fuss, similar nominations from the President will be treated speedily, beginning with the confirmation of some Directors of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday.
“What we did today is to set the tone of what will be coming in the future. That is to say, we will be confirming the nominees from Mr. President because that will really ensure that the country is properly governed.
“The CJN confirmation was a fantastic way to start confirmation process and we are very happy we are able to confirm him today, having received letter of request from Mr. President only last week”, Lawan said.
Also speaking to journalists, Gbajabiamila affirmed that Section 11 of the Constitution would be invoked by the House of Representatives to take over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly within the next one week if the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, did not issue a fresh Proclamation for inauguration to resolve the lingering crisis in the state assembly.
According to him: “What we did was to stick strictly by the rule or by the law that guides the Assembly and us as lawmakers. If in a week nothing changes, perhaps the House and the National Assembly as a whole will look at invoking section 11 of the Constitution.
“If every party, every player was consulted, all sides were heard, I don’t think we should go down that route and say if the governor decides not to heed it; that is not a decision for anybody to make.
“The governor is somebody I know and I believe he will operate within the confines of the law and dictate of the law and National Assembly and all other laws. So, I don’t think we should pre-empt the governor.”