Thursday, 14 January 2016

2016 budget submitted not missing, Senate confirms

Budget not missing, Senate confirms

CONTRARY to its earlier claims yesterday morning dur­ing plenary, the Senate later in the afternoon refuted reports that the 2016 budget was missing.

Senator Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia North), had dur­ing a Point of Order, asked the Upper Chamber to clear the air over the whereabouts of the document. He said Nigerian must know if the budget proposal was missing or not.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media And Public Af­fairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said no statement made by any senator during the plenary yesterday can be interpret­ed to mean an admission that the 2016 budget was missing.

He said no budget was missing and that the Senate will today distribute copies to all the senators to equip them to properly contribute to the debate which will take place be­tween January 19 and January 21, 2016.

Abdullahi stated that during yesterday’s plenary when Abaribe sought the media report clarification on the media report that the copy of the 2016 budget submitted to the Sen­ate was missing and sought an update on the issue.

Senate President Bukola Saraki replied that the issue he (Abaribe) mentioned and all issues emanating from the ex­ecutive sessions are being looked into by an adhoc commit­tee and that all senators should wait for the committee to submit its report.

“We have reeled out our time-table for working on the budget. So, how can the same budget be missing? The Sen­ate President never said or admitted that the budget is miss­ing and there was nothing that he said while presiding over the plenary that could be logically interpreted to mean an admission that the budget is missing.

“The media should please avoid unnecessary sensational­ism. We assure Nigerians that our time- table of completing work on the budget by February ending remains sacrosanct and we will work assiduously to achieve it,” he said.

During the Point of Order, Abaribe said: “The matter that I refer to is what is in every newspaper today and every­where in all the talkshows on the radio of a missing budget. Therefore, Mr President, I want to bring to your attention and all my colleagues that yesterday in our closed session, this matter also came up.

“Some of us who are worried have been inundated by messages from our constituents who are really worried about what their fate would be in 2016, and are asking us, where is our budget? That is why Mr President, I think it is definite and it is urgent that we look into this matter,” Aba­ribe remarked.

Meanwhile, checks by Daily Sun yesterday revealed that details of the 2016 budget were missing from the official website of Budget Office of the Federation. This is contrary to previous practices.

In the past, the Federal Government, through the Budget Office posted details of the budget on its website as soon as it was presented before a joint session of the National As­sembly.

Reacting to the whereabouts of the budget, a former gov­ernor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, described the development as scandalous.

Speaking yesterday with Daily Sun on telephone, Musa said since it was submitted to the National Assembly, Ni­gerians should hold the Senate responsible to produce the document.

The former governor said as long as the document is missing, the economy will suffer for it, noting that there will be no much money to spend by Nigerians because the budget’s whereabouts became an issue when it had not been approved and passed by the National Assembly.

He exonerated the Presidency from the crisis and urged the executive to impress on the lawmakers to produce the document as soon as possible.

“This is scandalous and it is making the country a laugh­ing stock. I urge the Presidency to hold the National Assem­bly responsible”, Musa said.

Meanwhile, Senate’s resolve to change the status quo with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) over contract awards, the Upper Chamber has passed a motion, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently set up the Na­tional Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) to give life and meaning to the Public Procurement Act so as to achieve the laudable objectives for which the law came into being.

In a motion on “Urgent need to compel the National Council on Public Procurement of Nigeria” and co-spon­sored by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, the lawmakers said the good intention of the legislature in passing the said bill into law was to establish a regulatory authority for monitor­ing and oversight of public procurement.