Saraki absent at budget meeting with Buhari

 President Muhammadu Buhari and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday afternoon met briefly behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa as the impasse over 2016 Budget lingers.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was expected at the meeting and was to arrive to join the meeting, however, he did not show up.

The parley was attended by the Chief of Staff to
the President, Abba Kyari and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly, (Senate), Ita Enang.
As the Speaker emerged from the meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes, State House Correspondents were barred from interviewing him by presidential security officials.
The journalists who protested to the President's Chief of Staff about their inability to interview Dogara, were calmly told that he could not have spoken to the press since the Senate President was not there to make the meeting complete.

According to Kyari, "If the National Assembly leaders are to meet the President, and the Senate President is not around, the Speaker cannot talk".

Meanwhile, newly formed group under the aegis of G77 comprising first time senators numbering 77 on Tuesday promised to revisit the detailed breakdown of the 2016 Appropriation and convince President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the document as soon as possible.

The group's leader who also doubles as Minority Leader of the Senate and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Sen Godswill Akpabio, while unfolding the group's agenda said while it was formed to entrench good governance in the country, it would explore its good relationship with the executive to revisit the contentious items in the 2016 Budget and make President Buhari to assent to it soonest.

"The lingering issue on the budget is something that we feel is embarrassing to Nigerians, not just to the National Assembly as a whole. If we had a group like this before now, that issue would have been brought to an end.

Akpabio noted that one of the major thrust of the group is to redeem the battered image of the Senate and ensure that the citizens reap the full benefit of the dividends of democracy.

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