Barring any last minute change of plans, the upper chambers of the National Assembly is scheduled to kick-start the confirmation process of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Bar and Bench Watch learnt on Sunday.
The Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo had sent a letter to the senate requesting it to confirm the candidacy of Justice Onnoghen to enable him appoint the jurist as the new Chief Justice.
Onnoghen’s name was forwarded to the Presidency more than four months ago by the National Judicial Council as the sole candidate for the number one position job in the judiciary.
As plenary resumes on Tuesday after a three-week break, President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki is scheduled to read the letter sent by the Presidency for the confirmation of Justice Onnoghen.
Saraki, it was learnt, will also read a separate letter by President Muhammadu Buhari to inform it of his decision to extend his leave indefinitely to enable him attend to his health..
This disclosure was made in a release signed by its Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi,
Buhari who is currently on medical vacation in London, had written to the Upper legislative chambers informing its members of his decision to extend the vacation on the day he was expected back to the country, citing medical reasons.
In the release, the Upper Legislative Chambers explained that the break was to allow its members participate in the different committees for the defence of budget estimates by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
According to the release, “The 8th Senate returns to regular business on Tuesday as it continues work on the 2017 budget and several economic priority bills which are at different stages of their passage.
“Its President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki will also read the two pending letters from President Muhammadu Buhari on extension of his holiday in London and the nomination of Justice Walter Onoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
“On February 2nd, the Senate adjourned its normal plenary session scheduled for three weeks to enable members participate in their various committees for the defence of budget estimates by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“Also within the period, for the first time in the history of the Nigerian parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate held a joint three-day Appropriations Committee public hearing on the 2017 budget.”
The release quoted the President of the Senate as saying, “By all accounts the public hearing event was an outstanding success.
“Federal ministers, private sector leaders, civil society organizations and others all participated in what I like to call the ‘people’s budget’ process.”
The senate noted that government officials were on hand to defend their budget proposals and answer questions, “CSO’s, academics and professionals associations offered commentary on their views and critique of the budget.
“It is the intention for the public hearing exercise to be institutionalized as a yearly exercise to promote government transparency and greater public participation in the process.”
Saraki said, “It is very important for the executive branch and the legislature to continue to work together to get the spending plan right. The months of collaboration will determine the extent to which the appropriations spending begins to grow the economy and create jobs.”
He added, “From tomorrow, Monday, various committees are expected to start submitting reports to the Committee on Appropriations based on schedule earlier provided as a result of the conclusion of budget defence by MDAs.
“This will be followed by compilation of the reports by the Appropriation committee and engagement with the leadership of the Senate and interface with some committee where necessary. The last stage of the budget process will be laying of report at plenary by the Appropriation Committee as well as the consideration and passage of the Appropriation Bill.”
The Senate also disclosed that it will begin to consider several economic reform bills that form the basis of the Red Chamber’s priority economic agenda.
“This coming week alone may see two such bills, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Act and the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), come up during plenary session,” senate said.