Ongoing controversy over the 2016 Budget deepened yesterday as the Senate and House of Representatives took opposing positions over the budget, which is yet to be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, said the Green Chamber will re-examine the budget in view of the prevailing circumstances in Nigeria, the Senate said it will not reopen discussions on the issue with the Presidency.
The Senate, through his spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, said the Red Chamber is done with the 2016 budget, and if there is anything missing in the budget, the Executive should come through by way of supplementary budget.
Sabi said: “What we issued yesterday remains our position.
“Today, all we did was confirm the true picture of these situation.
“I had to verify my facts and speak on those facts.
“I think we have made that clear.
“Yes we have passed the budget, Nigerians are asking what next?
“What is important is for the budget to be signed.
“The constitution has taken note of these kind of omissions of allocations.
“We issued that statement to clarify the situation and not to confront any authority.
“We are a democratic institution and whatever we do, we remain guided by the ground norm of the constitution.
“Like we said, the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the budget and does not in any way undermine the fact that it is an important project for this nation to embark on.
“The National Assembly is open if the executive brings a supplemantary appropriation.
“We are ready and willing to consider such.”
However, the House of Representatives yesterday said it was ready to engage the executive to identify all the areas of concern in the 2016 budget and possibly, resolve the impasse.
The lower chamber therefore mandated the speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to immediately liaise with President Muhammadu Buhari to iron out some of the grey areas in the budget.
This was contrary to the position of the Senate, which on Tuesday insisted that it would not revisit the 2016 budget it had passed, but rather asked President Buhari to sign the document as transmitted to him.
While giving the hint after Wednesday’s plenary, the House spokesman, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas said at the closed-door session, they were fully briefed by the Appropriation Committee regarding the Lagos-Calabar rail line.
Namdas said the House resolved afterwards to delegate the speaker to engage with the president for national interest.
He pointed out that amidst all the media report, they had not received any communication from the presidency on its position on the budget, stressing that it was the reason the House asked the speaker to liaise with the executive to resolve any pending issue.
“Considering the recent media report on the budget, we decided to have an executive session. We were fully briefed by the Appropriation Committee and after the briefing, we resolved to delegate the speaker to engage with the president. If it is in the national interest, we will accommodate it.
“Up till now, there is no communication from the executive or presidency on its position on the budget. That is why we asked the speaker to liaise with the executive to iron it out.
“Whatever is the case, we have done our job, nothing from the presidency showing that we have not done our job. We are not aware of any issue until the president comes to say otherwise.”
On alleged plan to remove the chairman of the Appropriation Committee for the lingering controversy, Namdas said the issue did not come up for discussion.
He further emphasised that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not captured in the budget presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.
Earlier in the day, the House sat briefly and went into an executive session.
After over two hours, Dogara announced that due to the prevailing economic situation in the country, the House would take a second look at the budget to iron out some of the grey areas, adding that in view of that, they were ready to engage the executive to resolve the impasse.

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