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National Assembly fails deadline on Budget 2016

By The Citizen
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The National Assembly failed on its promise to lay the report on the N6.07trn budget for 2016 in its chambers on Wednesday.

Contrary to expectations, neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives received any report on the budget from their Committee on Appropriation.

The budget was not listed on the Order Paper for the day's business.

It will be recalled that on March 2, the Senate/House Joint Committee on Appropriation had given their word that the report would be laid on March 16, while it would be considered and passed on March 17 (today).

Senator Danjuma Goje, who chairs the Senate Committee on Appropriation, and his counterpart from the House, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, had given their word at a joint news conference held at the National Assembly.

Jibrin specifically said, 'We will lay our report on the floor on the 16th of March. The report will be considered the next day, hopefully.

'So, it is safe for us to say that the budget will be passed on March 17.'

They failed to keep their word, as the report was not laid yesterday.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that the committee had yet to tidy up a few details in the document.

However, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the National Assembly would send the 2016 Appropriation Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent before Easter.

Ndume, who stated this in an interview with journalists, explained that the report of the Appropriation committee of the Senate would be laid by Goje on Thursday (today).

He said the report would be deliberated upon at the plenary on Tuesday next week and passed, while the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikashuwa, would transmit the document to Buhari.

He said, 'I want to assure you that the Appropriation committee of the Senate will submit its report tomorrow (today) and there will be a robust debate on it on the floor on Tuesday and we will pass it accordingly.

'The National Assembly will definitely transmit the approved 2016 budget to President Buhari for his assent before we will go for the Easter break next week.'

Observers and journalists who had expected the laying of the report of the Appropriation committee were disappointed on Wednesday when Goje was not in the chamber to lay the document, contrary to an earlier announcement.

A similar scenario played out at the House of Representatives, where Jibrin was conspicuously absent.

The spokesperson for the Senate, who is also a member of the Appropriation committee, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, had said on Tuesday that the report would be laid on the floor on Wednesday (yesterday) for consideration and passage.

But, addressing journalists on Wednesday on why the committee could not lay the report, Abdullahi attributed the delay to some administrative processes.

He said, 'All is almost set for the laying of the 2016 budget tomorrow (today) in the Senate chamber as we have promised Nigerians, and with that,  one or two processes that are required will take place and we will have our budget as promised.

'This has put to rest any suspicion on what is happening. I am here to inform you that tomorrow 17th, God sparing our lives, the 2016 budget will be laid by the Chairman of the Appropriation committee.

'We are laying the budget tomorrow, (today); that means that every little work that needed to be done with respect to getting that budget as an appropriation has been done. Literally, passing the budget tomorrow means that, beyond laying it, we will discuss it by taking it clause by clause.'

At the House, his counterpart, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, confirmed that the report had not been laid as expected. Punch.