An expected meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly on the controversial 2016 budget was abruptly called off on Friday.
No official reasons were immediately adduced for the turn of events, but findings indicated that protocol officials at the Presidential Villa reportedly politely told the NASS leadership that the meeting had been called off.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, were expected to lead a delegation of principal officers from their respective chambers to the meeting, which was said to have been planned to start at 6pm.
However, the meeting did not take place.
The Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, confirmed that the meeting did not take place after all.
Asked whether Buhari turned the lawmakers away, Gbajabiamila simply replied that the meeting was put off for the purpose of “convenience.”
In a terse text message, the All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Lagos State said, “The meeting was rescheduled to a future date.
“It was for reasons of convenience.”
But a separate source said that the Presidency earlier passed a message to the National Assembly officials that the meeting should be rescheduled for Saturday (today).
“They were told earlier that the meeting was rescheduled. Many of the principal officers of the National Assembly actually did not bother to come to the Villa, having been notified that there would be no meeting any longer today (Friday)”, the source added.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to Dogara on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, said he would find out what transpired at the Villa and get back, but as of the time of filing this report, he had not called back.
Hassan also could not immediately confirm whether his boss was at the Villa.
Investigations showed that there were doubts if the meeting would hold on Saturday as Dogara was already billed to travel to Yola, Adamawa State, today.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, had informed journalists on Thursday in Abuja that Buhari and the leadership of the legislature would meet “this week” to finalise discussions on the budget.
The Senate also hinted of a meeting with Buhari.
Namdas had stated, “Recall that we in the House mandated our Speaker to meet with Mr. President on the grey areas in the budget.
“The Speaker reported back to us and thé Presidency wrote us identifying the grey areas to be worked on in the budget.
“Following this, the leaders of both chambers also met and agreed after discussions, to meet with Mr. President hopefully this week to conclude the deliberations.”