Senate yesterday said it would pass the 2016 appropriation bill into law on Thursday, February 25, 2016, but that it would suspend plenary activities for two weeks beginning from next week, to allow committees conduct budget defence for ministries and agencies of government.
The upper legislative chamber also said all committees with oversight functions on ministries and agencies would commence meetings with the various bodies today (Thursday) and would round up on February 11, 2016, while submission and defence of reports of sub-committees on appropriations would be between February 12 and 18, 2016.
It also said it would commence collation and harmonisation of the reports as well as drawing of the bill between February 18 and 22, 2016, while the appropriations bill would be tabled on February 24, 2016, for passage.
This was disclosed by the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, after the conclusion of the second reading of the 2016 appropriation bill.
According to Senator Goje, “The budget has been referred to our committee; we are going to send circulars to all sub-committees to commence budget hearings from tomorrow; this is in line with the change mantra.
“We are also going to suspend plenary for two weeks from next week so as to allow the sub-committees work.”
Earlier, Senate President Bukola Saraki commended senators for commitment during the debate on the general principles of the bill.
Describing the appropriation bill as an “uncommon one,” the Senate president also commended the executive arm of the government for presenting for the first time budget estimates that were not dependent on oil revenues and with a high percentage on capital expenditure.
He urged senators to ensure that all leakages were blocked in the 2016 budget, adding that there was the need to properly fund all agencies of the government vested with the responsibility of fighting corruption in the country.
Urging senators to ensure that budget estimates were properly tracked, Senator Saraki added that, “Mr President has played his role; it is now time for us to play our role and we must get the estimates correct. We must scrutinise the estimates, critically look at the zero budgeting and we are going to be open about the budget.
“It is also uncommon because of the percentage for capital projects, but we must ensure that the monies are used for the purpose they are meant for. We must also ensure the integrity of this senate we must also take the issue of the oil benchmark very important,” he said.
Also speaking, President Buhari’s senior special assistants on National Assembly for Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Ita Enang and Honourable Abdulrrahman Sulaiman Kawu commended the National Assembly for a expedited actions on the bill.
They assured that the executive would keep to the practice of budget defence.
For Senator Enang, “We commend the senators and we will keep to the time table.”
For Honourable Kawu, “We are quite impressed in the was the National Assembly has addressed the budget; we are particularly happy about the commitment and zeal by lawmakers. I want to assure you that the agencies of government would honour invitations of the committees without hesitation.
“This is in line with the change agenda of this government to do things different from what it was in the past and we are committed to that promise, once more I thank members of the House of Representatives and distinguished senators for their cooperation and commitment to give Nigerians a budget of change,” said Kawu.