National Assembly to pass 2018 budget this week – Saraki

The leadership of the National Assembly has assured Nigerians that the 2018 appropriation bill will be passed by the end of this week.

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki announced this to journalists after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja

Saraki said work on the bill has reached its climax and it would be laid before the two chambers of the National Assembly this week and possibly be passed this week or next.

He added that discussions with the President touched on the recent invasion of the Senate chambers by thugs.

“We came here on the invitation of the President, who briefed us about his trip to the United States and also we talked about the budget and also about the invasion of the National Assembly, which is of concern to us and he showed his great concern and that it is an embarrassment to the National Assembly and the country. He said steps will be taken to investigate the matter.

As for the budget, we hope that it will be laid this week and if that happens, it will be passed this week or laid this week and passed early next week but we are hoping that it should be laid this week,” he affirmed.

On the relationship between the executive arm of government and the legislature, the President of the Senate said there is an improvement but stressed that friction between the two arms would be witnessed sometimes because it’s a democratic era.

He said: “You can see we are here today, it was the initiative of the president to brief us on his visit to the US and to engage in discussions I think that is a good sign and we as the National Assembly have always been ready to give all our support to the executive and we will continue to work along this line and at the end of the day, it’s a Presidential system and we as legislature have a responsibility sometimes to check the excesses of the executive so there will always be times where we disagree but by and large, we will always work for the interest of Nigerians.”

Dr Saraki said they also talked about the refusal of the Inspector General of Police to appear before the Senate, which he said was the first time such is happening and the Police must be made to obey the provisions of the constitution, which gives powers of investigation to both the Police and the legislature.

On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara condemned the alleged manhandling of Senator Dino Melaye by the Police and his arraignment in court on a stretcher.

He said: “On the issue of Senator Dino, of course anything that happens to one of our members; any member of the National Assembly is of concern to us and there is no way we can have this kind of meeting without raising that. This is a civilian administration, it is a democracy and it is imperative and very important that all institutions of democracy operate within the ambit of the rule of law.”

He stressed the Police have no right to act outside the provisions of the law and democratic tenets.

“I have said it before that, there is no way the Police will behave in a democracy like a clan tribesmen. There’s need for us to act we civility. We are not saying anybody should be protected or defended; once you have committed an offence, our law says you should answer it. But you have to utilize the provisions of the constitution and the rule of law, which this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has emphasized over and over, in order to bring such a person to book, and I believe our President being a listening President will definitely do something about the situation” he said.

The Speaker concluded that a situation where people are wheeled to court for trial doesn’t give a good image of democracy, which is being practiced in Nigeria.

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