…Presidency lacks foresight—Saraki
…It should apologise to Nigerians—PDP
…Saraki, NASS responsible for delay —Presidency
…He distorted main budget—APC
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dirisu Yakubu
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, yesterday, accused supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari of ‘Conscientious Ignorance’ in their attacks on him on his perceived hesitance to reconvene the National Assembly to consider financial estimates for Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to organise the 2019 elections.
Saraki in a statement, yesterday, also accused the president of a hidden agenda to scupper the 2019 election by his dithering procrastination to give assent to the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
But the Presidency said Saraki and the National Assembly should be held responsible for the delay in passing the supplementary budget for INEC.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was, however, not as kind as it tasked the Presidency to accept blames for its perceived tardiness and apologise to Nigerians for the stress caused by the delay.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, however, blasted Saraki for playing what he called destructive politics by adjourning the Senate on recess when the issue was still on ground.
Senate, House C’ttees meet today
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Senate and House Committees on Electoral Matters are to meet today to come up with a final report on the proposal from the Presidency on the election.
That report is to be submitted to the two committees on appropriation of the Senate and the House which would deliberate on it before submitting a final report to the Senate and the House sitting in plenary.
Senator Saraki’s assertions followed allegations last, weekend, by Buhari Media Support Group in which the Senate President was accused of frustrating the 2019 election by deliberately refusing to reconvene the National Assembly to consider the INEC election spending plan.
Presidency lacks foresight—Saraki
Responding in a statement issued on his behalf by his Special Assistant on New Media, Olu Onemola, the Senate President accused the Buhari Media Support Group of putting ignorance on display by selective consideration of the facts of the case.
He said: “By now, the Nigerian people are aware that the executive branch could have submitted INEC’s 2019 Election budget at the time it submitted the 2018 appropriations proposal last year. Furthermore, the executive had from January till June this year to submit the budget request.
“However, due to a perceived lack of foresight, display of usual tardiness or an attempt to ensure that due process would not be followed, this request was submitted only a few days before the statutory National Assembly annual recess.
“Regardless of this unforced error on the part of the executive, the National Assembly has continued its work on this budget. As it stands: the relevant Senate and House Committees have held individual budgetary hearings with the INEC chairman and all his commissioners on this budget. They have also held follow-up joint committee meetings to carefully scrutinise the provisions of the budget.”
Presidency should apologise to Nigerians—PDP
Charging the Presidency to accept blame over the issue and apologise to Nigerians, the PDP speaking through its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan, told Vanguard, yesterday, that the Presidency got the budget on time but failed to transmit same to the federal parliament for consideration.
He said: “The Presidency got the budget in February and deliberately kept it for reasons best known to them. The crisis the nation is currently engulfed in, with regards to budget for the elections, could have been averted if the right thing was done.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari should bury its head in shame and apologise to Nigerians for taking us through these difficult times.”
Saraki, NASS should be held responsible for the delay —Presidency
However, the Presidency said the President of the Senate, Saraki, and the National Assembly should be held responsible for the delay in passing the supplementary budget for INEC.
The Presidency further explained that the National Assembly delayed the 2018 budget that was submitted in November last year for seven months, adding that there was no way a supplementary budget could have been submitted without the passage of the main budget.
In a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the Presidency noted that President Buhari reluctantly signed the 2018 budget into law after it had been distorted by the National Assembly.
In the statement, entitled “Senator Saraki, look at mirrow, it’s your face that’s in it,” the Presidency denied any culpability by President Buhari in the supplementary budget delay.
Saraki distorted main budget—APC
In his reaction, Oshiomhole speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Mr Simon Egbebulem, said: “Dr Saraki is being economical with the truth. First, he distorted the entire budget that President Buhari presented to them and sent a carcass back to the president for his assent. That was why the president came up with this virement so as to consider those critical projects that they had tampered with.
“The INEC budget and other requests were sent to Dr. Saraki before the Senate went on recess and the Senate could have considered those requests before going on recess on a Thursday but Dr Saraki hurriedly adjourned the Senate on a Tuesday because he is playing destructive opposition politics in a bid to derail the Buhari administration and possibly shut down the government.”
“If he were patriotic, going on recess should not even have been an option at that material time when the issue of the INEC budget, virement and others were already before the Senate. So, he is not a patriot as he would want Nigerians to believe. He is purely being selfish, untruthful and being clever by half”, he said.