President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has assured that the delay in the appointment of new ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari will not affect the speedy passage of the 2020 appropriation bill when presented to the parliament.
Lawan, who met President Buhari alongside the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja explained that civil servants do the bulk of the work on budget preparation.
The visit of the two National Assembly leaders to the Villa came few hours after the confirmation of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, Lawan pledged that the National Assembly will speed up more confirmation of nominees from the President, in contrast with what obtained in the immediate past Senate.
According to him, so far as the executive presents the fiscal document, the absence of new ministers in the Buhari’s cabinet would not adversely affect the 2020 Budget passage.
He assured that the lawmakers would equally pass it into law before year end if the target date of September for presentation is met.
Lawan said: “I think there is nothing to worry us deeply. The budget itself is normally prepared by civil servants, the permanent secretaries superintend and the directors will work most of the time.
“I believe that we are still on course and I believe both the Executive and the Legislature are on the same page on this. We are desirous and are prepared and determined to pass the budget by the first and second week of December by the grace of God, provided it is presented to us by end of September.”
Commenting on the need for a smooth relationship between the executive and the parliament, Lawan said that just like Justice Muhammad’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate without fuss, similar nominations from the President will be treated speedily, beginning with the confirmation of some Directors of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) today.
“What we did today (Wednesday) is to set the tone of what will be coming in the future. That is to say, we will be confirming the nominees from Mr. President because that will really ensure that the country is properly governed.
“The CJN confirmation was a fantastic way to start confirmation process and we are very happy we are able to confirm him today (yesterday), having received letter of request from Mr. President only last week,” Lawan said.
Also speaking, Gbajabiamila affirmed that Section 11 of the Nigerian Constitution would be invoked by the House of Representatives to take over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly within the next one week if the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, fails to issue a fresh proclamation for inauguration to resolve the lingering crisis in the state parliament.
According to him, “What we did was to stick strictly by the rule or by the law that guides the Assembly and us as lawmakers. If, in a week, nothing changes, perhaps the House and the National Assembly as a whole will look at invoking section 11 of the Constitution.
“If every party, every player was consulted, all sides were heard, I don’t think we should go down that route and say if the governor decides not to heed it; that is not a decision for anybody to make.
“The governor is somebody I know and I believe he will operate within the confines of the law and dictate of the law and National Assembly and all other laws. So, I don’t think we should pre-empt the governor.”
Gbajabiamila explained that the House of Representatives has also intervened in the Bauchi State scenario with deployment of some members of a committee.