Although the National Assembly is on recess from plenary one cannot help but notice that there is still so much going around the Parliament in Nigeria. However, this has almost everything to do with politics and very little with policies and governance. In any case, given that politicians are saddled with the responsibility of policy-making to a large extent, it is inevitable that the policy environment for the week of August 20th, 2018 will hover around the politics of the legislature especially its principal actors. So here is a preview of the week:
- INEC Budget: The proposed expenditure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 general elections will continue to dominate conversations and activities around the National Assembly. Recall that the joint committees of the Senate and House of Representatives which met with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and other officials from the Executive last week adjourned sitting indefinitely when it appeared that lawmakers were toeing partisan lines instead of the national interest during the proceedings. But this will not stop pressure from mounting on the Committee and indeed, the National Assembly to consider and pass the N189billion budget of the Commission to avert jeopardy for the polls due in a few months.
- Reconvening the NASS: As indicated above, the need to reconvene the National Assembly from its annual recess will receive more adherents this week. Apart from the INEC budget, there is also a virement request from the President which the lawmakers have been asked to consider to enable government business to continue. On the political front, the pressures will also be coming from lawmakers are daggers-drawn with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, for defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The APC has made the impeachment of Mr. Saraki a major preoccupation in the last three weeks or so.
- Saraki still the issue: Observers of the policy process cannot afford to ignore goings-on with President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who has gained such huge political attention since he announced his defection from APC. All presidential requests to parliament and indeed, virtually much about the running of government that requires legislative interfaces continue to hang on this Kwara-born politician whose camp somewhat put word out that he is interested in President Muhammadu Buhari’s job.
- The Bye-election in Rivers: The suspended by-election for Port Harcourt Constituency 3 in the Rivers State House of Assembly is one event to watch out for. Recall that INEC pulled the brakes on the polls due to wide-scale violence that marred the exercise. Although, this is a provincial parliamentary poll, its eventual outcome is a pointer to the power play that necessarily bears on the policy environment not just in Rivers State but the country as a whole. Perceptive observes must keep an eye with what happens this week.
- The Return of Buhari: The President’s return from a 10-day vacation in London holds prospects for the National Assembly even though lawmakers are on a recess. President Buhari has already written the legislature to inform of his return like he did before proceeding on the trip. His presence in the country will certainly provide some inspiration for the already tensed political environment.