Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has flayed the presidency for the "negative impressions being created against the National Assembly" on the notion that the house is deliberating delaying approval for President Muhammadu Buharis virement request for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections.
He stated this while fielding questions at the 'World Press Conference' held on Wednesday, following the invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department for State Services (DSS) on Tuesday.
Noting that members going on recess was not an indication of shutting down government, he implied that the Federal Government deliberately delayed presenting the INEC budget to the house, and was not in a position to accuse the National Assembly of wanting to compromise 2018 elections.
According to him, the executive arm of government was well aware that there would be an election in 2019 and the details should have been included in the 2018 budget.
He, however, said that even if the INEC budget could not be included in the 2018 national budget, the Federal Government had six months within which it could have presented the document to the house, rather than delay it till the last minute when the house was going on recess.
Saraki said: “I don’t understand how when we go on our recess, there would be a government shutdown. On the day after we adjourned, we realised that the electoral bill had not been passed and we decided to wait, sit and pass the electoral bill. That was the only issue that was pending.
“On the issue of the request by INEC, it is amazing that nobody is asking if it was the day we were leaving that INEC wrote that they had a budget. January, February, March, April, May, June, nothing came from the executive to say ‘we need money for INEC,’ until July, when we were leaving. Be that as it may, we are ready to support the executive at all times.
“And I will let something out. Since we have gone on recess, the Speaker and I have met with the chairman of INEC to tell us his issues and this conversation has been going on. We have not even committed it to a committee. It just came as a letter read on the floor. It still has to go to a committee. That was the plan we had yesterday, but the condition was not conducive for us to hold the meeting.
“Even now, I, the speaker and the house leadership, have already sent for the INEC Chairman to come, so that the meeting earlier scheduled for yesterday can hold. And if after discussing with him, there is need for us to reconvene for sending to a committee, we will do that.
“We want a free and credible election. What we don’t like is when the wrong message is passed around. For us, you’re talking about from July till now. The executive, from last year, knew there was going to be a budget. Why wasn’t it included in the 2018 budget? And after the 2018 budget, you had December, January, February, March, April, May and June and it was not sent. So, to say today that it is the National Assembly that does not want election is not true. I want to reassure you on that.”