BUDGET: Buhari, ministers suffering from military hangover- Senators

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Some senators Monday said the executive arm of government was still suffering from military hangover. The senators said frequent claims that the National Assembly had no power to redistribute or insert items into the budget was an unfortunate carryover from the military era.

The parliamentarians who are members of the Senate committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, spoke yesterday in Rivers State, during an oversight visit to the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria Regional Training Centre, Afam.

They said lawmakers were often accused by ministers and other heads of government agencies of inserting items not originally captured in the budget, despite their constitutional powers to do so.

Senators Eyinnaya Abaribe, Clifford Ordia, Mao Ohuabunwa, Suleiman Hukunyi, Ahmed Ogembe, James Manager and Abubakar Kyari, who spoke, said lawmakers had challenged the executive to approach the court over the issue.

They said the executive had however declined to do so, noting that it was unwilling to approach a court because it had no case to defend.

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Chairman of the committee, Senator Abaribe, who spoke on behalf of others, said, “Anytime we decide to do our constitutional role, by ensuring that we put the right things in the budget, the executive goes to Nigerians and tells them that we have no right to put anything in the budget.

“That has always been the problem between us and them. We have challenged them to go to court and get a pronouncement on that. But they find it difficult to go to court, because they know that we are right. The constitution says that the President only lays the budget.

“What now happens from there is the business of the lawmakers. The hangover from the military government is still there. The era of combining both the duties of the executive and the legislature is still there. They are yet to get out of that hang over.”

Speaking on lack of training for workers in the power sector, the lawmakers said they only approve recommendations made in the budget by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

“The purpose of oversight is to ensure and verify that monies appropriated in budgets are properly spent. We also visit to ensure that you are fulfilling your mandate. I need to say something about budgeting. You make recommendations to our budget. We look at it and decide based on your recommendations.

“The unfortunate thing we see is that training does not get enough attention in your budget. We want to ensure that training is given adequate right of place. We have seen accidents in places of work because of lack of training.

“For usage of equipments, there are supposed to be training for those who handle them. We are interfacing with international bodies to assist you in your training,” Abaribe said..

By Ehisuan Odia…


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