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Again, National Assembly Postpones Passage of  2016 Budget

…As Appropriation Committees  Fail  to Submit Report

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

The National Assembly has once again postponed the passage of the 2016 budget till next week, as the Joint Appropriation Committee of both chambers failed to keep its promise of   laying the report of the budget  for deliberation and passage today.

 The Joint Appropriation Committees of the National Assembly had, in a press briefing last two weeks, assured Nigerians that based on their timetable, the report of the Appropriation Committee on the 2016 budget, will be presented at both chambers yesterday, while the consideration and passage of the Appropriation Bill will take place today.

But during the Wednesday plenary, there was no mention of the 2016 budget both in the Senate Order Paper and also during the plenary session.

However, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who spoke to journalists after the plenary session, said the passage of the budget will be next week, even as he said the report of Joint Appropriation Committee will be laid before the Senate today.

He said the National Assembly will deliberate on the report on Tuesday next week, while the Bill will be passed Wednesday, adding that the National Assembly will forward the Bill back to President Mohammadu Buhari for assent before the lawmakers vacate for Easter break.

Speaking also to journalists on the same issue, the Senate Spokesman, Abdulahi Sabi ( APC Niger North) corroborated what the Senate leader said, by assuring that all is set for the laying of the Bill today.

According to him,  “all is almost set for the laying of the 2016 budget 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 of what is happening. I am here to inform you that tomorrow 17th, God sparing our lives,  the 2016 budget would be laid by the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee.

“We are laying the budget tomorrow,  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 and give it the loud voice that would proclaim its passage.

“When a target is set, it is to allow you to work very hard to achieve the target. By virtue of the fact that the budget would be laid tomorrow,  it shows that we had worked so hard to get to that point.

“The rest after laying the budget is merely administrative. As far as we are concerned,  in line with the legislative procedure, by laying the budget tomorrow is as good as we have passed the budget.

“What remains is for us to go through one or two things as a procedure. We have done very well by ensuring that the budget would be laid tomorrow. There are lots of back and forth with respect to the budget.

“We are not unmindful about the date set for the passage, but we want to give Nigerians a budget that is acceptable,  implementable, and that will actually drive the key policies of this government with respect to the change agenda”.

He also explained that for the budget to be laid today, it means that there is concurrence, and that all members of the appropriation committee are satisfied, including everybody that has a responsibility to the budget.

He disclosed that every member of the committee has appended his signature on the budget and by tomorrow, when the budget is laid,  Nigerians will know that they have done well.

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