By Patience Danjuma
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang, has warned that the country might face total government shutdown if the National Assembly does not reconvene urgently.
Enang and Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, addressed State House correspondents shortly after a closed-door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Monday.
Both men were in the State House to brief the Acting President on the situation in the Senate.
The duo also expressed the urgent need for the National Assembly to reconvene immediately and pass the virement and supplementary budgets requested by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We are still appealing to the National Assembly to reconvene; you remember that we passed the budget with the understanding that a great amount of the money will be gotten from foreign loans.
“Although it was approved that there would be a loan, the amount that would be gotten was not approved; the Fiscal Responsibility Act requires that the President should specifically state the amount he wants to get from foreign loans and present it before the National Assembly.
“That letter has been presented before the National Assembly and it has to pass that amount before it could be obtained from the foreign financing institutions.
“This is what we are asking and if does not happen, in the next few months, we have a complete government shut down because what we are receiving from the Federation Account as Federal Government share — the capital component — is not enough to sustain even 15 per cent to 20 percent of budget.
“So, there may be a complete government shut down and I know Nigerians will not like it; that is why we are appealing to the National Assembly to reconvene,” Enang said.
The presidential aide said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had a clear majority in the Senate as it now had in its fold, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate and other defecting Senators.
He said that Akpabio would be formally received in APC at a ceremony that would be held in Akwa Ibom on Aug. 8.
On his part, Lawan said that that the capital aspect of 2019 budget would be largely funded by foreign facilities/loans.
He said that the National Assembly needed to pass the virement and supplementary budgets alongside other important and essential requests, especially that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other security agencies.
“We need to reconvene immediately to look into these issues. Our government is almost stalled and I believe that if we pass the supplementary budget and virement request of Mr President, it will enable our government to provide the various infrastructure that we have planned to provide for Nigerians.
“To do otherwise will be sabotage to this administration; will be sabotage to democracy itself because if we cannot provide the funds for INEC to plan the 2019 elections, what do we call ourselves?
“Take the case of INEC for example, it can pick some items from the shelves but there are so many important items that INEC will place order that will take two to three months.
“So, it is very imperative that we do the needful; we should reconvene the National Assembly immediately; as legislators and representatives of Nigeria, we do what is best in national interest,” Lawan said.
He urged senators to quickly reconvene and pass the requests as anything contrary would mean fighting the masses.
Lawan said that there were conflicting reports from different caucuses of the Senate but that APC remained the majority as it had 53 senators in its caucus.
He noted that the list of senators in APC caucus had been made public and challenged the PDP to publish the names of senators in the PDP Senate caucus.
The Senate and the House of Representatives adjourned sittings on July 24 to reconvene on September 25.
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