BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said that the attempt to shift and heap the blame as well as change the narrative over the passage of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for 2019 elections on the National Assembly would surely fail.
This is just as the Senate President described the statement credited to Media Organisation of President Muhammadu Buhari cautioning and urging him to reconvene the Senate to attend to urgent national issues as a careful and deliberate example of conscientious ignorance on full display.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Assistant on new media, Olu Onemola said the Nigerian people are aware that the Executive arm of government could have submitted INEC’s 2019 Election budget at the time it submitted the 2018 Appropriations proposal in 2017 adding that the Presidency also had from January till June this year to submit the budget request.
Onemola said; “It is necessary to begin this response to the Buhari Media Organization by reminding us of the aforementioned fact. This is because their statement is a careful and deliberate example of conscientious ignorance on full display.
“However, due to a lack of foresight, or the usual display of tardiness or an attempt to ensure that due process would not be followed — the INEC budget request was submitted by the Executive branch only a few days before the statutory National Assembly annual recess.”
Saraki explained that regardless of the unforced error on the part of the Executive, the National Assembly has continued its work on this budget, adding that as it stands, the relevant Senate & House of Representatives Committees have held individual budgetary hearings with the INEC Chairman and all his Commissioners on this budget.
He further said; “The @NGRSenate and @HouseNGR have also held follow-up Joint Committee meetings to carefully scrutinize the provisions of the budget. Furthermore, the Joint Committees are now scheduled to meet on Monday when they are expected to come up with a Committee report.
“This Report will then be given to the Appropriations Committee, which will spell out how to source the President’s virement request through the concerned MDAs. Any person or organization that is conversant with legislative due process would know this.
“It is only after the Appropriations Committee has worked on the budget details that a plenary sitting is required to adopt the final report.”
The statement said that the Senate President, the Senate and the entire National Assembly, are committed to ensuring that the 2019 elections receive all necessary funding.
“However, this should not be at the expense of due process and stated guidelines. Groups like the Buhari Media Organization that try to scapegoat the Senate President for the failure of the Executive to submit INEC’s 2019 election budget on time, know that the National Assembly has been working on this request through its Committees.
“Nigerians want to know why President Buhari withheld his assent on the first Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly to help legalize the various innovations that are needed for free and fair elections. These are the questions @BuhariMediaORG should ask their principal.
Saraki then urged @BuhariMediaORG to ask their principal the following questions:
“What is he afraid of in the very progressive proposals contained in the Electoral Bill? Why does he want to frustrate the 2019 election by not signing the much-needed enabling laws into effect?”
The Senate President said that it is necessary to state that the Buhari Media Organization (@BuhariMediaORG), in its failed attempt to mislead the public, has been crying more than the bereaved.
Saraki said that during this process, INEC, that will utilize the funds and conduct the proposed elections has stated that it is confident and comfortable with the thorough and transparent response exhibited by the National Assembly.
He also said; “Finally, it is necessary to once again emphasize that the public will continue to see through all attempts to mislead them with empty political grandstanding that is detrimental to the adherence to due process that the National Assembly’s leadership is committed to upholding.”
The Buhari Media Organisation had accused Saraki of postponing the resumption of the Senate, despite the ongoing issue in the country, especially the INEC budget and approval for foreign loans tied to several critical infrastructures.
The organisation through its chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke alleged that Saraki is the one laying siege on the whole country by using his position to undermine the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.