The Senate, on Wednesday warned that heads of MDAs who do not appear before the relevant committees for budget defence will have zero capital budget allocations.
Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, issued the threat while speaking with newsmen after the day’s plenary.
The Senate instructed Ministers and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to appear before the relevant committees in the Red Chamber to defend their agencies’ 2017 budgets.
This is even as the Senate has again suspended plenary for one week, to enable the affected MDAs to appear before the various committees. The Upper Legislative Chamber suspended plenary in January for three weeks to enable members of the various committees to attend to heads of MDAs.
Moving the motion on Wednesday to announce the adjournment, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, said some heads of MDAs, have refused to appear and defend their agencies’ budgets.
Speaking further on the issue, President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, warned that Ministers and heads of MDAs must defend their budget on or before Friday.
He warned that few individuals cannot hold the whole nation hostage, by flagrantly refusing to honour invitations from committee heads. He said the extension of the budget defence has also affected the earlier date set aside by the National Assembly to pass the 2017 budget.
He however assured that the 2017 Appropriation Bill will be passed on or before the second week of March, 2017.
Saraki said: “The plenary has been suspended till next week to allow the committees to complete the budget defence. From the meeting we had on Tuesday, it shows that a number of Ministers and chief executives of MDAs have not come to make their budget defence and we are going to give them today and tomorrow to do that.
“Any Minister, head of agency that does not do that by Friday, we are not going to keep this open and hold the country because of a few people. We have already lost a week because we should have finished this by end of last week and start receiving reports.
“This is a final warning to all those required to ensure that unfailingly by today or tomorrow, they should appear before the committees. After that, the committees are allowed to do as they wish on their budgets.”
Saraki also spoke on a planned meeting between the leadership of the Senate and the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo yesterday to resolve grey areas in the budget.
“Those who are meant to re-submit certain corrections should do that that by the end of Friday. It is our hope that by next week, all reports should have been submitted to the Appropriation Committee and for them to start receiving the reports for those that have completed. It is very important that this is so.
“The leadership will also be meeting with the Acting President this evening (yesterday) to try and iron out these issues. This is because we are determined that we must pass this budget within the second week of March. That is our target. So, we hope that this meeting will also help to speed up some of these discrepancies and clear them.”
However, Senator Sabi, was more definitive in his remarks, warning that heads of MDAs who do not appear before the relevant committees will have zero capital budget allocations.
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