Senators have resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari next week to end the budget row —amicably.
The meeting is to take place either Monday or Tuesday, depending on the President’s choice.
Ahead of next week’s meeting, the Senate has raised a committee to review the disputed items in the budget and harmonise them in line with what was presented to the National Assembly by the President, who has sent a list of the grey areas and mutilated items to the National Assembly. One of such areas is the Calabar0Lagos rail project.
The senators’ decision to meet with the President was the highlight of yesterday’s Executive Session.
Most senators were disturbed by four things at the closed door meeting, a source said. These are:
breakdown of communication between the Presidency and the National Assembly;
loss of public sympathy by the National Assembly;
the proposed Occupy National Assembly protest; and
negative effects of the budget impasse on the economy and the wellbeing of Nigerians.
It was gathered that most senators at the meeting were unhappy that public opinion was weighing against the National Assembly.
A committee comprising the chairmen of the Appropriation Committee (Danjuma Goje -Senate and Abdulmumin Jibrin-House of Representatives) and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma and others was formed.
The source, who pleaded for anonymity, said: “At the Executive Session, we all agreed that the Senate appears to be losing the goodwill of Nigerians, especially on the row over the budget.
“We have received all the grey areas or mutilated items in the budget from the Presidency. The President indicated priority projects which ought to be in the budget.
“After exhaustive deliberations, we have set up a committee to review and harmonise all these gaps. The committee is composed of some senators and some members of the Executive, led by the Minister of Budget and National Planning.
”The committee will start sitting today with a Saturday deadline to complete its assignment.”
Another senator said: “All senators resolved to meet with the President on Monday or Tuesday as part of a new rapprochement with the Executive.
“We want to bridge the communication gap and correct the impression that we are up in arms to frustrate the Buhari administration.
“To us, Nigeria is greater than any individual or institution. We don’t want the nation to travel this road all over. When we meet with the President, we will also make our views known on certain lapses, which we have observed on the part of the Executive.
“All of us decided to meet with the President at the Villa instead of sending a few who might not represent us well. It is left for the President to give us a convenient date.”
Another senator said the Senate agreed that there was “no need for Occupy National Assembly” planned by some Nigerians.
“We have agreed to address the budget impasse. We felt going the way of Occupy National Assembly will heat up the polity.
“We also cautioned individual Senators against running to the social media on issues in the Senate when there is enough freedom for all senators to air their views.
“Some of our colleagues are using the social media to destroy this hallowed chamber.”