• Assure of N’Assembly’s commitment to pass budget this month
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday visited President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, five days after he returned from London where he had gone on vacation since January 19.
The heads of the federal legislature who met with the president in his office behind closed-doors for over 40 minutes, said the meeting provided the platform to jointly review government activities when the president was away.
Answering questions from journalists on their assessment of the president’s health and particularly whether they found the president fit to discharge the functions of his office, Sarakisaid they engaged the president for over 40 minutes and the president equally engaged them.
According to him, they were not only glad that the president was back to his duty post but was also doing his job. He listed issues discussed in the meeting to include: resolutions passed when Buhari was away, including the approval of Eurobond, the confirmation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, screening of ambassadorial nominees, the ongoing budget process and the stability of the Niger Delta.
Saraki promised that the National Assembly was committed to passing the 2017 budget this month, explaining that the lawmakers were working hard to meet the March deadline set for the passage.
“After being away for awhile, it is good for us to meet and generally review things that were done in his absence. So, it is a normal consultation. I came here to discuss the issues regarding activities in the National Assembly in his absence. The president met with us and I think we were there for over 40 minutes.
“I was not talking to myself. So, you know he was responding and we were engaging and he engaged us very well. We discussed issues of national interest. So, we are happy to see him back and he is back at the office and he is doing his work.
“Well, the budget is ongoing. Things that we passed in his absence, like the issue of the CJN, the Eurobond, just general issues that are pending, the issue of the ambassadorial nominees that is due, the stability in the Niger Delta a whole range of issues were covered in the short period of time. We are working on it (budget) and our target is still this month and we are working every hard to ensure we meet that deadline,” Saraki stated.
In his response, Dogara who said he did not come to the Villa to assess the president, added that the National Assembly would always co-operate with the executive to ensure that the entire government succeeds.
“I didn’t come here to assess the president. Like the Senate president said, you guys are always here. You know. So, it shouldn’t be me lecturing you. You know better than I do. I have always said this even before Mr. President that in other climes, it is always the prerogative of the legislature to fight the executive.
“We fight on issues bordering on national interest but we expect to cooperate more than we fight in the interest of our people to ensure that there is progress, one government, no division. So, it is in the realisation of this that we will always extend the needed support to ensure that he succeeds so that our government will be rated as a successful one,” Dogara said.