BY BODE GBADEBO, Abuja
The National Assembly, yesterday, denied a news report (not in LEADERSHIP) that it may not meet the mandatory constitutional requirement of 181 sittings in a legislative year due to cash crunch and other exigencies.
Section 63 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the Senate and House of Representatives shall each sit for not less than 181 days in a year. Section 68 thereof states that any legislator who fails to attend the proceedings of the House or Senate for less than one third of the required number of days shall automatically lose his or her seat.
While the Senate has been struggling to hold plenary session twice a week, and in some cases once per week lately, the House of Representatives has since restricted sitting to once a week as opposed to the usual three days per week due to COVID-19 pandemic.
But the spokesperson of the Senate and chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun Central), while reacting to the report yesterday, said the Senate will achieve the 181 sittings as required by the Constitution.
“We are in the 9th of March and we have a 12-month calendar. There is nothing that says we won’t sit for 181 days. It is therefore
irresponsible for anybody to insinuate that we would not sit for 181 days. Those who are saying we won’t achieve the mandatory 181 days are
just creating unnecessary tension where there is none.
“There was no circular that we reduced sitting to once in a week . We have been having sitting three times a week since the beginning
of this year at the Senate. We have also had sitting twice a week. There is a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. We are very brisk in our
business these days. When it was necessary, we had had occasions to sit on a Monday this year”, Basiru said.
On the issue of cash crunch hitting the National Assembly, the Senate spokesperson described it as the “figment of the imagination of the
writers,” insisting that the National Assembly was up-to-date in fulfilling its financial obligations to lawmakers and its workers.