Buhari holds emergency meeting with Saraki, Dogara today

President Muhammadu Buhari will today meet Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

A source close to the leadership of the National Assembly said the two presiding officers were invited by the President for the meeting without stating the agenda.

“The President has called the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for a meeting tomorrow (today) at the Villa. No agenda was stated for the meeting,” the source said.

The President’s parley with Saraki and Dogara is coming at a time lawmakers were calling for impeachment of the President over the purchase of Super Tucano aircrafts at the cost of $496m without the approval of the parliament.

That opposition lawmakers at both chambers of the National Assembly called for the impeachment of the President over the unapproved expenditure.

At the Senate, the case has been referred to the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters committee, chaired by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger).  The committee was mandated to submit its report last Wednesday, but it didn’t.

The source said the meeting may be connected with the expenditure, saying “We have gathered that the US government has expressed reservation that the expenditure was not backed by the Nigerian Parliament.”

Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe) in an interview told NationReformer.com that the essence of parliamentary scrutiny was to ensure that no public resources and money are lost.

“The release of $496m for the purchase of Super Tucano by the President has shown that no money was lost. More especially when the President of the US, Donald Trump in discussion with the President said the American government is in receipt of the money that goes further to confirm that we didn’t lose money as a country.

“So we really have not lost anything and I think this should give consolation to everybody because the fear will always be that someone takes advantage and then money is lost. If you recall that in the previous administration over $9m was found in a South Africa bound aircraft belonging to a Nigerian.  Aside that, millions of dollars in cash were found with so many people at that time during the PDP administration of Jonathan but this is not the case now.

“This situation now is that the President had to quickly take the advantage of the window created by the new administration in the US, which before now was unavailable. I’m sure that the parliament will look at it from this point of view that the President meant well and acted because he did not want the country to lose the opportunity to buy the aircrafts,” he said.

Buhari had in a letter dated April 13; requested the parliament to include the expenditure in the 2018 budget which is still at the National Assembly.

The 2018 budget presented on November 7, has suffered six months delay at the National Assembly. On many occasions, the parliament had fixed dates for its passage.

Both chambers had last week fixed this week for the passage of the fiscal document.

The two issues of budget and $496m, our correspondent reports have worsened the relationship between the executive and the parliament.

Contacted, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Saraki, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu said, “I don’t know anything about the meeting, it is Oga that will know.”