The National Assembly has condemned the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, stating that passage of the 2019 Appropriation Bill and the New Minimum Wage Bill will suffer further delay.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone on Saturday evening, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, lamented that the postponement had more implications beyond the elections.
Namdas said one of the implications was that the National Assembly, which is billed to resume plenary on Tuesday to work on the national budget and the wage bill, among others, would be forced to extend its recess.
The House’s spokesman said, “For us in the National Assembly, we are really saddened by this event. We had supported INEC to the extent that we decided to postpone some of our recess and holidays just to approve the commission’s budget for this election. And we approved N189bn for INEC (in addition to the budgets of security agencies, totalling N242bn) so that the situation today could be averted.
“That is why we feel that it is not fair, after the support, both from Nigerians, the National Assembly and the executive (arm of government), for INEC to cite logistics as a reason for postponement. This is really unfair on the part of INEC.”
Namdas added, “More importantly that we are having Budget 2019 before us, this postponement will have a multiplier effect. We are supposed to resume on Tuesday, but with this, I am not sure that this will be there; but that depends on what our leaders will tell us.
“However, you can understand that nobody will leave their constituency to go (to Abuja) on Tuesday for sitting and come back on Friday for election. With the terrain of this country, some people, before they can access their areas, they require close to two days. This will be a very difficult scenario.
“If it happens that the resumption is postponed, it means that the deliberation on the budget is also affected. But Nigerians will be fighting us; that we are delaying the budget, not knowing that these are some of the issues. I hope it will not occur and this will be a blessing in disguise.”
When reminded that the wage bill was also pending, the lawmaker said, “Yes, it is there. So, you can imagine!”