NASS Will Ensure Complete Consideration Of 2022 Budget – Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the National Assembly would “ensure exhaustive consideration” of the 2022 budget that President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the federal legislature on Thursday.

The Speaker stated this on Thursday in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi.

He said the National Assembly was committed to the timely passage of the Appropriation Bill as it did in the last two years, noting that the next two to three months will be for the strictest scrutiny of the budget estimates.
According to him, the lawmakers would hold government agencies accountable for the previously appropriated funds.

In a remark at the budget presentation before a joint session of the National Assembly, Gbajabiamila recalled that upon inauguration, the 9th Assembly committed itself to pursue long-awaited and critical reforms to the appropriations process for better delivery on the promise of national development.

“Over the last two budget cycles, by the joint effort of the executive and legislature, we have made significant progress in this regard and achieved reforms that will stand the test of time and count in our favour,” he noted.

Speaker Gbajabiamila added that while working to deliver the previous budgets, the lawmakers worked “through the day and night, forgoing all other considerations in a joint effort to deliver a national budget that meets the highest expectations of the Nigerian people.

“Therefore, I am confident that the National Assembly will give this Appropriation Bill the prompt consideration it demands.

“However, let me use this opportunity to say to the heads of ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria that the determination of the National Assembly to deliver a timely budget will not derogate from our responsibility to ensure exhaustive consideration of the Bill.

“We will demand a thorough accounting for the funds previously appropriated, disbursed and expended. And we will take steps to hold to account those who fail to provide the records we need to make informed decisions on the Appropriation Bill. This is the responsibility of the National Assembly, and we will live up to it.”

The speaker noted that the reforms introduced by the 9th Assembly in the appropriations process, “including establishing a January to December budget cycle, improving oversight procedures, and ensuring greater fidelity to the letter and spirit of our appropriation laws, have led to measurable improvements in public infrastructure, access to education and housing, healthcare and transportation, amongst others.

“These improvements, which have had a positive impact on the lives of millions of Nigerians across the country, inspire us to do more.”

He said innovations in technology, the changing nature of global trade, the challenges of cross-border insecurity and the increasing interdependence of nations have continued to “present challenges we must overcome and opportunities we must embrace.”

As legislators and leaders in government, the speaker said, “we have a continued obligation to ensure that in considering this Appropriation Bill, we make all deliberate efforts to ensure that we continue to make critical investments in education and healthcare, public infrastructure and national security.

“Through these investments, we can hope to build an economy that provides enough well-paying jobs for our young population so that we can, in our lifetime, end endemic poverty in our country and eradicate the social ills that derive therefrom.”

The speaker said the House has, in the last one year, passed several important resolutions relating to healthcare, primary education and national security that require actual funding.

“Where these resolutions have not been included in the Appropriation Bill, the House will work with the Senate and with the Executive to see to it that the final version of this Appropriation Bill includes necessary allocations to implement these resolutions and give full effect to the best wishes of the House,” he added.

Gbajabiamila thanked President Buhari for coming to present the budget estimates personally as usual, and commended the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Budget Office, ministers and those who contributed to drafting the Appropriation Bill.

“The National Assembly will build on your efforts. Together, we will deliver an Appropriation Act that provides real solutions to national problems, unlocks economic potential, secures our country and brings a future we can all look forward to and be proud of.

He also paid glowing tributes to senators and members of the House for their “unmatched determination to delivering the annual budget on time, in line with our commitment to a January to December budget cycle,” the Speaker noted.

PDP NASS Caucus Backs Southern Governors, Rejects Alleged Move To Alter Electoral Act

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The joint caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the National Assembly has backed the Southern Governors resolution on the electronic transmission of election results in the country.

Meeting on Monday in Lagos State, the 17 southern governors rejected the removal of the electronic transmission of the election result from the Electoral Act, saying the move was necessary to consolidate the nation’s democracy.

Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had issued a communique after the meeting, kicking against the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.

Two days after, the PDP National Assembly caucus threw their weight behind the governor, “vehemently rejecting the clandestine moves to manipulate and alter the Electoral Act to remove the electronic transmission results from the law.”

They warned that any move to “tamper with a critical component of transparency and credibility of the electoral process is an unpatriotic and mischievous attempt to subvert our democratic process, institutionalize rigging, bastardize and frustrate genuine efforts towards credible elections in our country.”

“Electronic transmission of results is the only way to eliminate malpractice and manipulations associated with manual collation of results, including alteration, switching and disappearance of election materials while on transit to various collation centers,” the statement partly read.

See the full statement released by the PDP NASS Caucus below:

Press Release

July 7, 2021

Position of Joint PDP Caucus the Resolution of Southern Governor On Electronic Transmission of Election Results, State Police, Others

After due consideration and extensive deliberations on political and security situation in the country, the Joint PDP National Assembly unanimously upholds the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) in vehemently rejecting the clandestine moves to manipulate and alter the Electoral Act to remove the electronic transmission results from the law

Such furtive venture to tamper with a critical component of transparency and credibility of the electoral process is an unpatriotic and mischievous attempt to subvert our democratic process, institutionalize rigging, bastardize and frustrate genuine efforts towards credible elections in our country.

Electronic transmission of results is the only way to eliminate malpractice and manipulations associated with manual collation of results, including alteration, switching and disappearance of election materials while on transit to various collation centers.

The Joint PDP caucus is already taking very strong and uncompromising steps to ensure that the provision guaranteeing the electronic transmission of result is not tampered with in any form whatsoever.

On security, the Joint PDP Caucus reaffirm our unwavering support for the establishment of state police as well as other measure adopted by the governors to ensure the security of lives and property in the respective states, including those curtailing unauthorizes movements and occupation of forest areas.

We also affirm the demands by State governors, that as Chief Security Officers in the states, they must be duly informed before any security institution undertakes any operation in their states.

The Joint PDP Caucus, also lends full support to the demand by our governors that deductions from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the states and Federal Government to combat security challenges.

These resolutions by the governors, regarding security does not offend but rather reinforce genuine efforts towards guaranteeing adequate security of lives and property given the current situation in our country as a federation.

We call on governors, lawmakers and critical stakeholders from other regions to support these patriotic initiatives of the Southern Governors’ Forum in the interest of security of lives and property in our dear nation.

The Joint Caucus agrees with the position of the Governors in rejecting the 3% percentage of share of the oil revenue to the host community as passed by the Senate and supporting the 5% as passed by the House of Representatives.

As a Joint Caucus, we have set up very strong machinery to ensure that, in the interest of justice and fairness, the percentage of share of the oil revenue to the host community does not fall below expectation.

The Joint PDP Caucus commends the Southern Governors’ Forum for the continued patriotic stand in always proffering solutions on critical issues boarding on the security, stability, as well as economic and political well-being of our dear nation at all time.

 

Signed:

Constitution Review To Address Nigeria’s Foundational Deficiencies, Says Gbajabiamila

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Saturday said the ongoing constitutional amendments are to address Nigeria’s foundational problems.

Speaking during a meeting of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Nigerian Legislatures in Abuja on Saturday, Gbajabiamila called for collaboration between the National Assembly and the 36 state Houses of Assembly to make the review of the 1999 Constitution successful.

He said that the legislature remained the most important arm of government in any democratic setting.

According to the Speaker, the intention of the “wholesale review of our nation’s constitution” was “using the constitutional amendment process to address the foundational deficiencies in our constitution that continue to mitigate against the attainment of an honourable, peace and universal prosperity in our country.”

Once the National Assembly was done with its part, Gbajabiamila noted that it would forward the constitution review document to state Houses of Assembly for their inputs.

“That process of constitutional review cannot succeed without strategic collaboration between all of us who are here today,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.

“So, I ask of you that we take the opportunity of this conference to agree on the things we wish to achieve so that we can begin now to devise the strategies through which we can achieve our objectives.”

Gbajabiamila said by virtue of its roles, which included coming together to protect the interests of the diverse people in the country, the legislature had a more direct and immediate connection with the people at the grassroots.

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While urging lawmakers to remain true to their constitutional roles, he said: “I believe that the legislature is the most important arm of the government. Some might say I am biased, having spent most of my political career in the legislature.

“And they will be right. But the fact remains, that by design, it is only the legislator that has the constitutional obligation to come to work each day and advocate for the interests of the people on whose behalf we serve.

“This is both a high honour and a heavy responsibility. And I am pleased that at this time in our nation’s history, we have as presiding officers of parliament across the country, capable people who recognise the importance of this moment and are equal to the task of nation-building at this critical time.”

Gbajabiamila noted that though there are three arms of government with the Judiciary and the Executive having their roles clearly understood by all, there is usually a misconception about the role of the Legislature.

“In governance, there is a role for the Legislature. Unfortunately in our clime, and perhaps in most climes, the role of the Legislature is often conflicted and bungled together to include the role of the Judiciary, the role of the Executive, and even the role of a private organisation.

“We have to play all these roles as legislators. What I find solace in is the fact that this misconception and misunderstanding of the role of the Legislature is a worldwide phenomenon. It is universal, and it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone”, he said.

At the conference, Gbajabiamila said since the last meeting of COPON 12 years ago, “…our democracy has changed. We have matured and improved, yet in many important ways, and on many important issues, there is still a lot of work left to do.

“​As legislators, our ability to do what is required of us in this joint task of nation-building depends, in some measure, on how well we can work together within the federal legislature, and across the legislatures of the thirty-six states.”

Signed:

Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari Congratulates NASS On Second Anniversary

President Muhammadu Buhari presided over a Virtual Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Kano-Katsina-Jibya-Maradi with a branch line to Dutse Railway Project in State House on February 9. 2021.
File Photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the 9th National Assembly on its second anniversary.

The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, saluted the vision, courage, and patriotism of the Assembly.

He appreciated the understanding and maturity of the lawmakers in speedily processing bills that directly impact the welfare of Nigerians, courageously finding common grounds to move the country forward, and passionately carrying out their oversight functions with justice and fairness.

“On behalf of Nigerians, and the Federal Executive Council, President Muhammadu Buhari sends warm greetings to the leadership and members of the 9th National Assembly on their second anniversary, extolling the sense of duty and diligence in handling issues related to the development of the country.

“The President commended the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for using their wealth of experience, wisdom, and knowledge to ensure a peaceful working relationship among lawmakers, between both chambers, the Judiciary and the Executive, by always focusing on the larger picture of nation-building.

“As the 9th National Assembly commemorates the landmark, President Buhari believes the legislature has brought dignity and honour to the country, and looks forward to more years of harmonious working relationship, with a focus on improving the livelihood of citizens, and creating an enabling environment for a prosperous nation where both the young and old can fully realize their dreams”, the statement added.

 

NASS Staff Demand Payment Of Three Years Salary, Resumption Of Work

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Some staff of the National Assembly are demanding the payment of three years salary and the immediate resumption of work with seven days.

The workers were employed in the National Assembly Service in 2018.

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They stated their demands during a protest on Tuesday at the National Assembly saying they have waited patiently for 3 years to resume, done almost 75% of the necessary documentations as government workers, and have been screened but to no avail.

The protesting workers are also demanding the payment of three years salary benefits and allowances as well as full implementation of the National Assembly service commission ad-hoc committee report on 2018 recruitment.

Salaries Of NASS Members Must Reflect Economic Realities – Court

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to fix the salaries and allowances of the 469 members of the National Assembly, to reflect the economic realities in the country.

The court on Friday also ruled that the National Assembly Service Commission has no power to determine the remuneration and allowances of lawmakers.

Justice Chuka Obiozor delivered the judgment via zoom today in the consolidated suits brought by two legal Practitioners, Mr. Monday Ubani and Mr. John Nwokwu, and more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians through the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE).

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana led the team of human rights lawyers who secured victory in what is being described as a landmark judgment.

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The suit was filed on the heels of reports that members of the National Assembly receive running costs and allowances not determined by RMAFC and that such allowances are illegal because they are far above what the RMAFC prescribed.

In 2018, one of the senators, Senator Shehu Sani had disclosed in an interview that “each senator receives N13.5 million monthly as running cost in addition to over N750,000.00 monthly consolidated salary and allowances”.

Another online publication further revealed that each senator is entitled to the sum of N200m as a constituency project allowance.

The National Assembly filed a Defence denying ever collecting such an amount but failed to disclose to the court how much they collect.

The NASS Commission in their defense also denied paying such an amount to the members. They also challenged the locus standi of the plaintiffs to institute the action against them.

But Justice Obiozor overruled these objections and held that in line with the constitution, the RMAFC should do a downward review of the salaries, remuneration, or allowances of the lawmakers to reflect the economic realities in the country.

The court also recommended that since the lawmakers have denied receiving jumbo pays, the EFCC should look at their books and prosecute them if it is found that they under collect such an amount of money.

The National Assembly comprises 469 members – with 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives. These public officers form a very tiny percentage of about 200 million Nigerians.

Buhari Seeks NASS Approval For Fresh N2.3trn External Loan

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly for the approval of a fresh 2.343 trillion naira external loan.

The money is meant to part-finance the budget deficit of 5.602 trillion Naira in the 2021 budget.

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawn read the letter during plenary on Tuesday.

The President is requesting for the resolution of the National Assembly for the implementation of the external borrowing of 2.18 billion dollars in the 2021 Appropriations Act.

President Buhari further stated in the letter that the 2021 budget provides for 4.686 trillion as new borrowing to part-finance the 2021 fiscal deficit of which 50 percent is specified as new external borrowing.

The loan is to be sourced from a combination of sources namely multilateral and bilateral lenders, the international capital market through the issuance of Eurobonds.

Also the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, read the same letter from President Buhari to the lawmakers.

Read the letter below:

 

NASS Will Never Pass Any Law To Hinder Press Freedom – Lawan

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila speak to a journalist after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja. PHOTO: State House

 

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has felicitated with Nigerian journalists on the occasion of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, saying the National Assembly under his watch will not suppress press freedom.

Lawan in a statement issued on Sunday by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, May 3 is set aside every year to remind governments around the world of their obligation to facilitate and respect press freedom, and also to remind journalists of the need to respect the ethics of their profession.

“The Ninth Senate and the National Assembly, in general, will never pass any law that inhibits the freedom of the press but rather work with the media to further enhances the practice of the profession,” he said.

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“I also celebrate the Nigerian journalists for the invaluable contributions and sacrifices that they have made throughout our national history to nation-building and entrenchment of democracy.

“I pay tribute to the patriots who have lost their lives in the line of duty and pray that their death will not be in vain.”

“It is in this light that I call on the practitioners to purge their noble profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of the mainstream practitioners.

“The leadership organs of the profession also need to adopt practical measures to check the activities of the purveyors of fake news.

“My belief is that the menace of fake news is capable of eroding the integrity and credibility of the media in general, and this should not be allowed to happen,” Lawan said.

The Senate President wishes the media a happy celebration.

Signed:

Ola Awoniyi

Special Adviser(Media) to President of the Senate

Sunday, 2nd May 2021

Electoral Offences: 125 Cases In Court, 60 Convictions Made In Six Years – INEC

A file photo of a bag containing electoral materials to be deployed for an election.

 

Since the 2015 general elections in the country, 125 cases of electoral offences were filed in various courts out of which 60 convictions have been secured so far, including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom State.

This is according to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this on Wednesday during a one-day public hearing on the National Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill 2021, organized by the Senate Committee on INEC.

“Of the numerous responsibilities carried out by the Commission, the prosecution of electoral offenders has been one of the most challenging,” he said.

READ ALSO: Bill To Create Special Seats For Women In NASS, State Assemblies Scale Second Reading

“For instance, since the 2015 General Election, 125 cases of electoral offences were filed in various courts out of which 60 convictions have been secured so far, including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom State.”

He also expressed disappointment over the delay in the passage of the Electoral Act amendment bill, saying barely a year and nine months to the 2023 general election, the National Assembly is yet to pass the bill.

According to the INEC boss, the prosecution of electoral offenders has been one of the most challenging tasks for the commission since its establishment.

Yakubu added, “The commission would like to see more successful prosecution of offenders, not just of ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of election results but most importantly their sponsors.

“We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery, including party chieftains and candidates that seek to benefit from violations of the law, are apprehended. We believe that the work of the proposed Commission will help in this regard,” Yakubu said.

Bill To Create Special Seats For Women In NASS, State Assemblies Scales Second Reading

A file photo of the sponsor of the bill, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, addressing a press conference in Abuja.

 

Members of the House of Representatives have stepped up efforts to ensure more women represent their constituents at legislative houses at both Federal and State levels.

This comes as a bill for an act to alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to create additional special seats for women in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly scaled the second reading.

It was read for the second time on Wednesday during plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The bill, which was sponsored by the Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, and 85 other lawmakers, seeks to address the issue of low representation of women in the legislature.

It proposes two additional members of the House of Representatives from each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and one additional senator from each state, who shall be women.

Three other bills, including a bill for an act to provide for compulsory teaching of vocational studies in the syllabuses of secondary schools in Nigeria, have also scaled the second reading in the House.

The others are a bill for an act to regulate the profession of forestry in Nigeria, and a bill for an act to establish the Public Service Institute of Nigeria.

The Public Service Institute is charged with the responsibility of organising training programmes and refresher courses for civil and public servants in the employment of the Federal Government.

During Wednesday’s plenary, two other bills, including a bill for an act to establish the Institute of Co-operative Professionals of Nigeria, were consolidated by the lawmakers.

The other is a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Cooperatives and Social Enterprise Management to regulate, control, and determine the standards of knowledge to be attained by persons seeking to become chartered co-operators and social entrepreneurs.

‘NASS Has Done Its Part,’ Senate Committee Backs Financial Autonomy For Judiciary

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

 

The National Assembly has done its part by enacting laws to guarantee full autonomy for the judiciary at the Federal Level, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele has said.

Senator Bamidele, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, called on lawmakers in various State Houses of Assembly to pass similar laws to give full autonomy to the judiciary.

He made the remarks on Monday during an interview with reporters at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“For me, as a Nigerian, it is laughable that (at this point) we still need to be grappling with the need to grant judiciary independence at whatever level – either at the federal, state, and local government level; our laws are very clear on this,” Senator Bamidele said.

He added, “For the National Assembly, we have done the needful by making necessary laws that will guarantee the independence of the judiciary at the federal level. So for us, it is not an issue.”

The lawmaker stated that the independence of the judiciary was non-negotiable, adding that it was important for governors to implement full autonomy for the judiciary in their respective states.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele addressing reporters in Abuja on April 19, 2021.

 

His comments were in reaction to the protest at the National Assembly by members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

“For the record, the National Assembly does not make laws for the states; every state according to our Constitution has its own State House of Assembly.

“The only time that the National Assembly acts as a State House of Assembly is when it has to do with the Federal Capital Territory to which we are like the State House of Assembly,” the lawmaker said.

Although they were denied entry into the Assembly premises, the lawyers held the protest in solidarity with judiciary workers demanding financial autonomy for the judiciary in various states.

Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) commenced a nationwide industrial action on April 6, leaving courts under lock and key as a result of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

On Friday last week, the NBA leadership directed its branch chairmen across the country to lead visits to Government Houses in their states over the purported unwillingness of the governors to implement the judiciary’s financial autonomy.

In the statement by NBA President, Olumide Akpata, the branch chairmen were directed to lead the visits, which were more like peaceful protests, on April 19 and on all other subsequent Mondays until the demand was met.

The branch leaders were asked “to effectively mobilise their members” for the “visit to the governors at the state government houses” to press home the demand.

Bill Seeking To Empower NASS To Summon President, Governors Passes Second Reading

 

A Bill that will empower the National Assembly to summon the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Governors of States has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Sergius Ogun, seeks to amend the constitution to compel the President and governors to respond to issues of security or any other matter before parliament.

Although the bill was not debated during plenary on Tuesday, it was referred to the constitution review committee.

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This is sequel to the controversy that trailed the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to honour the invitation of the House in December, last year.

The House of Representatives had earlier in December passed a resolution to invite President Buhari to brief the house on the true state of the security situation in the country.

The decision to summon President Buhari was taken when the House considered a motion moved by members from Borno State on the massacre of 43 rice farmers in the state by Boko Haram insurgents.

The debate turned rowdy after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila appealed that it would be inappropriate to invite the president to disclose the actions being taken towards handling the security situation in the country. The Speaker described it as counter-productive.

 

– Summoning The President –

The controversy as regards summoning the President went deeper after Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami announced that the National Assembly has no constitutional power to summon President Buhari.

Malami disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Buhari’s Summon: NASS Operates Outside Constitutional bounds.’

The AGF said, “National Assembly has no constitutional power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the president would be summoned by the national assembly on the operational use of the armed forces.”

He also noted the right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is “inherently discretionary in the President and not at the behest of the National Assembly.”