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Senate President battle not a do-or-die matter – Lawan

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Ahead of the inauguration of the Ninth Senate and the election of a new Senate President, the Senate Leader, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday said the battle for the exalted position is not a do-or-die affair.

He, however, unfolded plans to devote three months to budget consideration if he is elected to the lead the National Assembly in the next political dispensation.

The Senate Leader said he would ensure the return of the  the nation to the January-December budget cycle.

According to him, an effective budget cycle would be put in place in a manner that the President would sign the Appropriation Bill of the year ahead on or before December 31.

Lawan unfolded his plans when he met with representatives of media organisations in Abuja against the backdrop of fierce contest for position of the Senate president.

He said: “The simple answer is, it is not. We contested for this thing in 2015 and it was the will of God that I will not be Senate President and you will bear me witness that that did not stop me from going to the National Assembly to participate in activities of the Senate.

“I continued to represent my people as a Committee Chairman on Defence and I conducted myself as such and eventually I was elected the Senate leader and I continued to serve as Senate leader to date.

“Most of us believe that God Almighty that created us also has designed our lives from cradle to grave and I believe in that.

“So, it is not a do or die affair and I believe that should we not make it, that will not stop us from working to represent our people, do our oversight, to legislate for the good governance of this country, to support the Senate and the National Assembly and to support Mr. President to deliver the campaign promises of the APC as a political party.  We are going to do that regardless. So, it is not a do-or-die affair.”

On the nation’s budgeting crisis, Lawan pledged to resolve it with a three-month consideration plan.

He said that out of the three months, a month will be devoted to budget defence by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Lawan said: “Even though the budgeting issue varies from time to time, sometimes the crisis may be for three months, four months and sometimes seven months. We believe that we can turn this around with the right attitude and it takes the two sides of government; in this case, the National Assembly and the Executive arm of government.

“Our approach in the National Assembly will be that we will talk amongst ourselves; we will tell ourselves that we want to pass the budget within three months. If we agree on that, then we will also have to agree on how we will achieve that.

”First, we should not leave the Shores of Nigeria for anything unless it is health problem. We must stay around; ensure we have a time frame for budget defence. When I say time frame, I mean we will devote a whole month it, not plenary unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

“We will approach the executive arm of government and discuss things with them.

“For Mr. President, there will be nothing more that will gladden his heart than having a budget passed within three months and I am sure it is the same for Nigerians.

“It will be a huge relief if we can achieve it. So, we will tell the Executive arm of government that no Minister, no chief executive officer of any MDA should leave this country unless it is absolutely necessary and inevitable without defending his or her budget or the budget of the ministry.

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