‘We’re Working To Ensure 2018 Budget Comes To Effect March 31’

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2018 National Budget to a Joint Session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. He is being assisted here by his Special Adviser on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang.

 

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Affairs (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, on Sunday said all hands are on deck as the executive is working together with lawmakers to ensure that the 2018 budget comes to effect by March 31.

The President’s Special Adviser who was a guest on Channels Television Programme, Sunday Politics said the lawmakers have been provided with necessary details and inputs for quick passage of the appropriation bill.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The President during the presentation proposed a budget of N8.612 trillion for the year 2018.

Senator Enang, in reaction to the controversy that earlier trailed the whereabouts of the budget, said there is no cause for alarm because the budget is currently under consideration by the National Assembly.

He said, “Last week, the National Assembly at the Senate raised a question (observation) that there are some questions and inputs which they still expect from some MDAs. We (the executive) have been in touch with the chairman of the appropriation committee, the chairman of the sub-committee and the deputy chairman of the committee.

“Any area where they needed any question, we have answered. We have brought the officers before them (in the Senate). The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation met with them, we have also appraised the Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, we have met with most of the ministers who they had anything about their input.”

The presidential aide was hopeful that the budget would soon be passed, saying the executive arm of government is working together with the legislature to ensure its implementation by March 31.

“I will not be in a position to dispute any matter with the Senate,” he said. “We need a solution; we need the 2018 budget to be passed.”

“We are working with the legislature to ensure that by March 31, 2018, the budget of 2018 will come into effect – that is agreed between the executive and legislature and we are working towards that,” he added.

Buhari Signs Bills Into law, Meets With Senate President

portfolioNigeria’s President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, has signed eight bills into law.

Some of the bills are the National Judicial Institute Amendment Act 2016, Advertising Practitioners Registration Amendment Act 2016, Utilities Charges Commission Amendment Act 2016 and Quality Surveyors Registration Amendment Act 2016.

A spokesman for the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, told reporters that other bills signed into law include Small and Medium Scale Industries Development Agency Amendment Act 2016, Treaty to Establish African Economic Community Relating to Pan African Parliament (Accession and Jurisdiction) Amendment Act 2016, University of Abuja Amendment Act 2016 and Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers Amendment Act 2016.

President Buhari also met with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting, which was held behind closed-doors in the president’s office, lasted about 45 minutes.

The Senate President also observed the evening muslim prayers at the Villa before he left.

NERC Job: Professor Akinwande To Honour Screening After MIT Clearance

NERC, Professor Akintunde AkinwandeNominated Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, says he will honour an invitation for screening by the Nigerian Senate after clearing with his current employer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.

A statement by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, disclosed that Professor Akinwande had said he did not turn down the offer by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Adesina, the declaration is contained in a letter dated October 26, 2016, addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and sent through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.

The letter reads in part: “News reports in Nigeria that I have rejected President Buhari’s nomination to be Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission have been brought to my attention.

“I have the greatest respect for President Buhari. I am fully behind the change he has brought and is bringing to the way government business is conducted in Nigeria.

“I am deeply honoured that Mr President and his team thought me worthy for this important national assignment and sought me out for it.

“I am a tenured professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“As such, I am contractually constrained to seek formally the consent of the university for a leave of absence before presenting myself to the Senate for screening and if confirmed take on the assignment.”

Professor Akinwande apologised to the Senate Committee for not showing up for the screening process scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, noting that it was not out of disrespect for the institution.

The academic said he would be available for the screening after clearance from the MIT.

Buhari Asks Lawmakers To Hastily Pass Statutory Budgets

Muhammadu Buhari, National Assembly, BudgetsNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has asked the National Assembly to hasten the passage of statutory budgets for 29 government corporations and agencies.

President Buhari made the request on Wednesday through his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.

He said the passage of the budget for the 29 government corporations and agencies would stimulate Nigeria’s economy and create jobs.

Briefing reporters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Enang said that President Buhari had assented to the FCT Appropriation Bill.

The FCT budget passed and assented to by President Buhari is put at 241.5 billion Naira.

The capital expenditure is fixed at 154.8 billion Naira and 52.9 billion Naira for personnel cost while 34.4 billion Naira is for overhead cost.

PENGASSAN Strike Continues As Discussions Hold With Ministers

Oil Workers, PENGASSAN, NUPENGThe President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria – PENGASSAN, Mr Francis Johnson says the union’s ongoing strike continues until all issues raised before the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and that of Labour are fully addressed.

Mr Johnson told journalists after a closed-door meeting at the NNPC headquarters in Abuja that the decision on whether or not to suspend the strike would be made by the national executive council of the union.

Although the key issue of redundancy in the sector is yet to be addressed at a separate meeting Tuesday with the Minister of Labour and international oil companies, presidents of both PENGASSAN and NUPENG say discussions so far have been satisfactory.

The dialogue which held at the NNPC headquarters had in attendance the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, and leaders of PENGASSAN and NUPENG.

One of the issues discussed is the implementation of the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the federal government and the unions.

Also tabled for discussion were the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the state under which the oil workers operate, especially with regard to lack of power and bad roads.

Before the meeting went into closed-door, Dr. Kachikwu gave the assurance that the meeting would resolve the issues amicably.

The PENGASSAN had last week declared an industrial action over the dispute, while NUPENG postponed its action pending the outcome of this meeting.

Obasanjo Briefs Buhari On Damaged North East Nigeria

ObasanjoFormer president, Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday briefed President Muhammdu Buhari on the outcome of his recent trip to Borno State to assess the damage done to the North East by Boko Haram terrorists.

The duo met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Mohammadu Buhari, who received him into his office at about 12.30PM, saw the former leader off, after the two of held a closed door meeting that lasted for about an hour.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting Mr Obasanjo, who parried most of the questions, however said that he came to brief the President on the outcome of his recent trip to Borno State.

The former president’s visit coincides with the transmission of the budget back to the Office of the President .

The former president, however, said the constitution allows for spending while a thorough scrutiny of the current budget is still ongoing.

Details of the 2016 budget was on Thursday transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, confirmed the transmission to Channels Television.

Senator Enang said he went into the President’s Office for the hand over in the company of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari.

2016 Budget: Ita Enang Says Buhari’s Letter Is With National Assembly

National Assembly in NigeriaThe Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, says President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a communication to the National Assembly as regards the 2016 budget.

Speaking on phone to Channels Television, Senator Enang said the content of the letter would be read at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

It is presumed that the letter may address the controversy which has plagued the 2016 budget, triggering reports that the budget is missing.

Senate President Bukola Saraki had accused Senator Enang of circulating a budget different from the document presented by President Buhari on December 22, 2015.

He insisted that the National Assembly would only deliberate on the budget sent to it by the President.

Seventh Assembly Did Not Amend Standing Rules – Enang

enangA former Federal Lawmaker in the Seventh Assembly, Senator Ita Enang says at no time did the Seventh Assembly amend its standing rules.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television, Senator Enang, who chaired the Committee on Rules and Business in the Seventh Assembly, discredited reports that the Senate standing rules ended with the Assembly.

The Senate has been tangled in controversy as federal lawmakers in the Unity Forum wrote a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, alleging that some sections of the 2015 Senate rules had been forged by certain Senators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The contention was that the Senate standing rules for 2015 was secretly amended to replace the use of open ballot system with secret ballot system in the election of the principal officers in the Senate.

Another amendment to the Senate standing rules which is sure to further deepen the crises is a new section which prescribes equal committee chairmanship positions for each of the six geopolitical zones.

Political Parties Urged To Allow Independence Of Legislature

National Assembly in NigeriaA former Senate President in Nigeria, Senator Ken Nnamani, has advised political parties to learn from history and allow for the independence of the legislature.

Addressing a gathering in Abuja on Monday, Senator Nnamani said the National Assembly was grappling with the crisis of the supremacy of the party versus an established arm of government.

The former Senate President cautioned that the independence of the legislature should not be sacrificed on the altar of party supremacy.

Ever since the Eight Assembly was inaugurated on June 9, it has been plagued by one crisis after the other, all of it centred on the choice of the leadership of both chambers.

The emergence of the principal officers of the Senate and House of Representatives was the tipping point in the drama at the National Assembly.

The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, in an attempt to enforce party’s supremacy, went on a collision course with some lawmakers in both chambers.

A former lawmaker, Senator Ita Enang and some other former federal lawmakers at the event set a legislative agenda for the National Assembly and also identified critical areas, which the parliament must focus on.

Senator Enang stressed the need for lawmakers to learn to balance party interests with their legislative duties.

But in spite of the bickering over leadership positions in the National Assembly, Nigerians expect the federal lawmakers to perform the duties for which they were elected.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have set up ad-hoc committees to put together a legislative agenda for the Eight Assembly.

These committees are expected to initiate a legislative agenda, which would guide the National Assembly on the areas of specific national legislation, which it would focus on the next four years.

Mark Warns State Legislators Against Undue Attachment To Governors

MarkNigeria’s Senate President, David Mark, has warned state legislators to resist interference and dominance by the executive arm of government in their states.

The Senate President gave the advice at an induction course for new state legislators organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).

Senator Mark noted that the relationship between State Houses of Assembly and state governors in Nigeria has often been from two extremes; patronizing or rocky, but their is need for lawmakers to strike a balance.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rule and Business, Senator Ita Enang, also shared this view as reports of sudden and ill conceived impeachments of presiding officers of the State Assemblies have become common, much to the dismay of many Nigerians.

The induction course, put together by the NILS, was to prepare state legislators to avoid pitfalls in the discharge of their duties.

The first task which the incoming lawmakers would have to contend with would be electing their principal officers.

The rule and convention of the Senate, the House of Representatives as well as state assemblies is that whoever must be a principal officer must be a ranking lawmaker, a rule that some first time lawmakers into the state assemblies have expressed reservation about.

However, Senator David Mark, as well as other principal officers of the National Assembly have called for caution and synergy between State Assemblies and the National Assembly to aid the country in achieving its developmental goals, increase transparency and accountability and curb corruption.

Bills Are Made For The Nation Not Political Parties, Enang Tells Tinubu

Senator_Ita_EnangThe Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, has responded to allegations made by Senator Remi Tinubu that the Senate was divided and the PDP majority in the Senate actively tries to sink the bills initiated by APC lawmakers.

Senator Enang, in an interview with Channels Television, said that it was uncharitable for any Senator to allege partisanship on the floor of the Senate.

He said that the leadership of the Senate allows lawmakers from both the majority and minority parties to contribute to debates on motions and bills on the floor of the Senate.

Senator Enang also stressed that PDP lawmakers were aware that bills and laws are not made for the party but for the nation.

The former Lagos State First Lady had said that she was not entirely interested in extending her term at the National Assembly. She accused the PDP Senators of frustrating genuine bills their counterparts from APC sponsored in the House.

Tinubu revealed how the PDP “cabal” at the Senate allegedly scuttled her bill on social security. She made the allegations in Lagos while addressing journalists on her achievement since she was voted in as a Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial district.

Tinubu, in her speech titled, “Making A Mark: Three Years Of People-Focused Representation”, gave an account of her stewardship in the Senate since her election three years ago.

Senators Fight Over State Of The Nation Address Bill

Tension flared at Wednesday’s Senate plenary session as two federal lawmakers, Senator Kabiru Marafa, of the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) representing Zamfara Central and Senator Paulinus Igwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from Ebonyi Central, almost got into a fight over the State of the Nation Address Bill.

The rancour occurred in the hallowed chamber over the State of the Nation Address Bill which President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to sign into law.

Emotions went high as lawmakers considered a letter from President Goodluck Jonathan on the bill, where he had faulted some clauses in the bill and called for amendments.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the State of the Nation address bill which would ensure that the President presents to a joint sitting of the National Assembly, an address on critical issues and appraise government performance in the year.

However in a letter to the Senate, President Jonathan stated that Section 67 of the Constitution has made ample provision for the kind of address contemplated by the bill.

President Jonathan further stated that he is inclined to accede to the bill subject to some amendments.

Supreme Court’s Interpretation

As the deliberations commenced on the President’s letter, however some lawmakers faulted the President’s call for amendments to the bill and advocated moves to override President Jonathan’s veto on the State of the Nation Bill.

Senator Ita Enang, asked the Senate to seek an interpretation from the Supreme Court to know if the President has powers to make amendments to a bill sent to him for assent by the National Assembly.

Shortly after that submission, the Senate President, Senator David Mark called for an adjournment, but it all went downhill from there as the session went rowdy.

The trend of arguments heightened tension in the chamber and in the ensuing confusion the two lawmakers almost exchanged blows, whilst some called for caution.

Meanwhile, Senate spokesperson, Enyinaya Abaribe explained that the near fisticuff between the lawmakers had nothing to do with the debate on the state of the nation address bill.

The Senate did not specifically say if it would go with the recommendation by Senator Enang to seek for interpretation from the Supreme Court but the Senate President appealed to lawmakers to defer resolutions on the bill until they are better informed on the best measure to adopt.