More facts emerged on Monday about why the National Assembly will no longer reconvene this week as formerly planned.
It was gathered that senators and House of Representatives members concluded that it was practicality impossible for the planned emergency session to hold and approve the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) budget in a single sitting.
The leadership of the National Assembly had said after a meeting with the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu last week that the two chambers would reconvene today to consider and approve INEC budget and the revilement requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yakubu also told reporters that he was assured that the budget for the 2019 election would be approved this week.
A competent source however confirmed on Monday that the lawmakers will no longer reconvene in view of latest developments and the practicability of the resumption date.
He noted that the thinking of many lawmakers was it to consider and approve Buhari’s request would take the National Assembly close to a month at the least.
He said, “The request by President Muhammadu Buhari is not just a single line item that would just require a one day sitting.
“The request has variety of committees that would be involved, including the Appropriations, Finance, INEC and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“It is different from a situation whereby the President is asking for an increase in the size of the budget through a change of benchmark.
“The request by Mr. President is not something that can be done in one day. Even those who are pushing the agenda know it.”
He insisted that the National Assembly cannot achieve anything even if it was reconvened in for one sitting “because the request has to be passed to the necessary committees and the committees have to meet with relevant MDAs for their input.
He added, “Besides, there is another issue that has to do with the Constituency projects. The letter is requesting the lawmakers to remove funds from their constituency projects and use the same to fund INEC.
“Remember that the Constituency projects are not one line items in the budget.
“You can’t imagine how long it would take the Appropriations committees to sort out that issue with the MDAs.
Another source noted that “Reconvening the National Assembly will not really work. It would mean that you want to keep the lawmakers around for the next one month, which defeats the idea of the annual recess.
“The letter by the President is not just requesting for an increase in benchmark, which can be handledin one day through Senate or House resolution. Treating the letter by the President will take two to three weeks or even more weeks.”
He said that that the logistics of securing a quorum of either the senate or the House was becoming more and more difficult as members are getting deep into their recess.
He said, “Many of our colleagues have travelled for Hajj. Many are in their constituencies battling the challenges of re-election. If you check even with the APC right now, they can’t get up to 30 Senators and next week is Sallah, Arafat is on Monday and you will have holidays. A number of people have travelled. It is not practicable to reconvene now.”