25th September, 2018
Some Nigerians have decried the latest postponement of the resumption date for the National Assembly from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, saying it would delay INEC’s budget for 2019 general elections.
They expressed their displeasure while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Omolori, had on Sunday announced that the National Assembly rescheduled resumption from its annual recess from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9.
Omolori explained that the postponement was due to the activities of primary elections by political parties.
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA), said the shift in date for NASS resumption might affect the preparation for the forthcoming general elections by the electoral body.
She urged the Executive arm and NASS to ensure speedy approval of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) proposed budget for 2019 general elections by burying their differences in the over all interest of the nation.
“The postponement of the resumption, without doubt, will have its negative effects on the preparations by INEC towards the 2019 elections.
“And I can confidently say, that this will begin to unveil itself in the next few days.
“We must all understand clearly that most of the items captured by the INEC’s budget has to do with procurement of election materials, many of which are items not produced within our country, which may therefore experience some serious delays.
“This is why I want to restate the need for the executive to work closely with the National Assembly, in order to sort out areas of conflicts, and ensure a speedy approval of INEC’s budget as well as passage and assent to the pending Electoral Act, ” she said.
Okei-Odumakin urged the lawmakers to prioritise national interest while performing their statutory duties.
“As valid as the reason for the postponement of the National Assembly resumption may sound, the members must understand that the collective interest of Nigerians, majority of whom are not members of the political parties, must always take precedence over the partisan interests of our elected public officials.
“There should be limit to how far they must go in abandoning their job as servants to the citizens for their pursuit of ambitions.
“It is not too pleasant and the leadership of the National Assembly should urgently review this.
“There is nothing that prevents members of the National Assembly from participating in their political parties affairs, while at the same time performing their statutory duties,” she said.
Also, Dr Abimbola Oyedokun, Lagos State Chairman of KOWA Party, told NAN that with six months to the general elections, INEC might no be able to prepare adequately without the approval of its proposed budget.
Oyedokun urged the National Assembly to ensure that pressing national issues take precedence over their personal political ambitions .
“It’s unfortunate that critical issues such as the funding of the general elections have been left unattended to up till this time.
“The National Assembly is within its rights to postpone resumption of plenary, whether because of party primaries or any other reason.
“It is, however, surprising that a government which controls both the executive and legislative arms of government has been unable to pass such critical legislation less than six months to the general elections.
“It is time for Nigerians to vote in capable legislators into the National Assembly instead of merely endorsing the options provided by the so-called large parties,” he said.