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Budget: Saraki, Dogara meet over clean copy

By on May 5, 2016

The Senate leadership met for many hours on Tuesday to consider the preview copy of the grey areas contained in the 2016 budget.

The meeting lasted for about five hours but the spokesperson for the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, told journalists at 6:10pm on Tuesday that it was premature to brief journalists on the discussions on the budget.

He, however, promised to keep Nigerians updated on the issues as they unfold but noted that the leadership of the red chamber was working hard to ensure an amicable resolution of the budget crisis.

He said, “I cannot speak on the discussion going on, on the budget because it has not ended. I will brief the media when the all discussions are over.”

But an aide of the Senate President told one of our correspondents on Tuesday evening that his principal, Bukola Saraki, met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, after his meeting with the Senate leadership.

He said the leadership of both chambers of the federal parliament would meet later on Tuesday night with the executive team led by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at a venue that had been determined by the National Assembly leaders.

A Presidency source told one of our correspondents that  the National Assembly Joint   on Budget clean-up had submitted a preview version of the 2016 budget to the executive through the presidential liaison officers in the federal parliament.

The preview copy, according to the source, was given to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita-Enang, and his counterpart for the House of  Representatives,  Sulaiman Kawu.

The Presidency source said, “We have received a copy for preview last night (Monday). We have received the preview copy, not the final copy that will be forwarded. The ministers will look at what they (lawmakers) have done so that it will be agreed fully that this is what will be presented.”

The source assured Nigerians that areas of disagreement were being eliminated one by one.

He said Nigerians would be happy when the budget was passed.

He said, “They (grey areas) are being eliminated and reduced. It will be a budget for Nigeria made by Nigerians.”

Meanwhile, the source added that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the clean copy of the document would be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari who is expected to sign it  between Wednesday and Thursday.

He said, “I can assure you that based on the preview copy sent by the National Assembly to the executive, all the areas of disagreement had been resolved.

“The President should receive the clean copy tonight (Tuesday night) and he is likely to sign it either Wednesday or Thursday.”

The Senate President adjourned plenary by 1pm on Tuesday to enable the leadership of the chamber to meet and review the preview copy of the budget put together by the joint committee of Senate and House of Representatives.

When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang,  expressed delight that a truce had been reached between the legislature and the executive over issues arising from the 2016 budget.

Enang, spoke with The PUNCH on the telephone  in Abuja   at the end of a meeting between legislators and representatives of the executive.

The Presidential aide said, “The issues have been resolved consensually.We have finished. Thank you.”  He, however, declined to go into the details of what was agreed upon. He also did not entertain further questions on the subject.