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Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting, which was held inside the President’s office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was believed to be part of efforts aimed at resolving the 2016 budget controversy.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, however, did not attend the meeting which lasted about 30 minutes.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, were present at the meeting.
Security men attached to the Presidential Villa barred State House correspondents from interviewing Dogara after the brief meeting.
A security gate erected at the front of the Council Chambers was locked against them when they attempted to approach Dogara as he made his way to his vehicle.
Kyari later told the reporters that the Speaker could not have spoken to them because there were two leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly, saying only one of them visited.
Enang also declined comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said it was not advisable for the President to sign a budget that he would not be able to implement.
He added signing a budget without implementing it constituted an impeachable offence.
Adesina said this in an excerpt from a radio interview he granted, which he posted on his Facebook wall on Tuesday.
The presidential spokesman said a lot of consultation was ongoing between the executive and the legislative on the budget crisis.
He stated that what came back to the President as details of the budget from the National Assembly were completely different from what Buhari submitted to the federal lawmakers.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari would not sign a budget that would not be favourable to Nigerians.
Adesina said, “It is even an impeachable offence because they will say later that he didn’t implement it; and a President should not sign a budget that is not in favour of the people.
“Those budget projections were sent to the National Assembly, and what came back didn’t in any way look like what was sent. Projects had been moved round, like the Lagos-Calabar (rail) project was not even there. It had been yanked off completely.
“There was controversy whether it was in the original budget or the corrected one. But the Chairman, Land Transport committee, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, had clarified that it was in the addition to the budget. It went in but was not in what came out. A N60bn project! How do you implement things like that?
“What is a budget if it cannot serve the people? The President now said he would have to look at that budget ministry-by-ministry, which has been done.
“The ministers have said no: this is not the document we sent in and this does not favour us. We can’t deliver change with this.”
When asked whether the President’s two liaison officers at the National Assembly were not aware when the budget was being discussed, Adesina said the presidential aides could not have sat with National Assembly committees while they were discussing.
“They won’t sit with the committees. When it was adopted by the whole house, they wouldn’t be there.
“They will only see the document when it has come back. There is not much that they could have done,” he explained.
The presidential spokesman ruled out the possibility of constitutional crisis, saying it was not be up to 30 days yet that the details were sent to the President.
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Source: Punch News