Nigeria’s Senate president, Ahmed Lawan said on Tuesday that the National Assembly would no longer tolerate inefficiency from persons responsible for preparing and submitting budget estimates.
“Let me make this comment. I will advise those responsible for putting budget estimates for revision or whatever to be meticulous and responsible. The issue is that there was an omission on their (executive) side and they are requesting for the inclusion of N186 billion.
“We have to insist on this because when we simply put figures without the document supporting the inclusion, somebody will say we are padding the budget. The National Assembly will be castigated and in some cases even insulted.”
In a manner that reminds Nigerians of the era of Bukola Saraki’s leadrership at the Senate, the executive appears to think that the present senate will allow anything pass without proper scrutiny.
The Senate said the quick passage of the N10.509 trillion revised budget draft sent to the National Assembly two weeks ago was now a mirage, expressing disappointment that the presidency failed to include a certain N186 billion health allocation in the entire budget.
This omission has caused the senate to suspend further consideration of the budget bill, saying everything must be done accordingly.
The crux of the matter was that the chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North), informed his the legislatures that the Presidency did not capture the N186 billion health vote as part of the entire N500 billion intervention fund for COVID-19 in the appropriation bill.
He explained that while N314 billion was captured, as part of the intervention fund, the balance of N186 billion proposed for the health sector, was not.
He told session that “Upon making such observation at committee level, we quickly informed the budget office of the omission last week. The budget office, as part of excuses given for the omission, said since the entire N500 billion was captured in the MTEF/FSP documents already passed by the Senate, there was no need for it to be fully captured in the budget.
“But we rejected that excuse in line with Sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers the National Assembly to appropriate every single kobo for the executive before spending. On the strength of our superior argument, the budget office admitted the omission but promised to write a letter to us, to be used as evidence of helping them to include it. But the expected letter never came till now, making us not to be ready for presentation of any report.”