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Jonathan is doing well — Senate

…claims ignorance of Yar’Adua’s whereabouts

By Emmanuel Aziken

ABUJA—The Senate yesterday expressed satisfaction with the performance of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President even as it claimed its continued ignorance of the circumstances of the well being of President Umaru Yar‘Adua.

The Senate also yesterday said whatever proposals for the scheduling of the next round of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would remain tentative until the alteration of the 1999 constitution and the amendment of the subsisting Electoral Act.

Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze at a briefing revealed that the 2010 budget when passed could include a deficit exceeding the N1.5 trillion originally proposed.

Giving the Senate’s endorsement of the actions so far taken by Dr. Jonathan since he was enthroned as Acting President by the National Assembly a month ago, Senator Eze said:

“We are very pleased with the steps he has taken so far and we are standing with and behind him and that is why all communications coming from him are treated expeditiously in the interest of the nation and we don’t feel that the Acting President has performed below expectation,” Senator Eze said yesterday.

“As an institution and as a very crucial arm of government, we are very pleased with what is happening in the executive arm of government at least for now,” he reiterated.

But asked on the health of the substantive President, Alhaji Umaru Yar‘Adua, Senator Eze was blunt saying he was not his chief physician.

Asked to explain the possibility of the National Assembly amending the constitution to meet with the INEC schedule for elections, he said:
“INEC is doing its work based on the extant laws, the constitution the country has and the electoral act guiding the activities of INEC. INEC cannot fold its hand and wait for the constitution to be amended. They will continue to work and when we now kick in the amendment, INEC will be guided by the amendment, so there is no conflict at all.

He said the March date earlier pleaded by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu for the passage of the constitution alteration bill was still feasible.

“What we said was that the constitution review committee will conclude its work and make a presentation by the end of the first quarter. If you go by our time table, that is what we are trying to do to make sure that within the first quarter, that we table the matter on the floor of the Senate for consideration. How long it will now take depends on the activities of individual members in plenary because the committee cannot dictate the pace at which we proceed after we have put it on the floor.”

On the continued delay in presenting the 2010 budget proposals for approval in the Senate plenary, Senator Eze said:
“The last time I spoke to you I told you that because of late injections made by the executive arm of government and because of the computations that are expected to be painstakingly done, the budget is in its final stages of preparations.”

“I can’t say specifically when it will come but I know that we are trying to make sure that we look at the budget properly. You know when it came it had an inbuilt deficit of N1.5trillion, that deficit by the additions that the executive branch has made is even moving up and we have to balance the deficit with the size of the budget and these are some of the issues that are causing delay. I am sure that I can safely say that the budget will be presented and possibly passed this month.”


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