2016 Budget Controversy: Senate advises Buhari to submit supplementary budget

The Senate today ruled out the possibility of reconsidering the inclusion of the N60 billion Lagos-Calabar rail project in the 2016 budget. Instead the parliament promised to consider it only if a supplementary budget is sent to it by the executive arm of government.

Briefing newsmen on the outcome of a closed-door session held ahead of yesterday’s plenary, Senate Committee Chairman on Information and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, also said the Senate stood by its Monday position warning the executive against blackmail over the budget.

Abdullahi said having passed the Appropriation Bill, it was impossible for the National Assembly to revisit it, explaining that the only option left was for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the budget and thereafter send a supplementary budget on the rail project as provided in the constitution.
He argued that the Senate had resolved to be guided by the constitution in handling the crisis emanating from the passage of the 2016 budget.

“Today, we have resumed plenary having come back from our recess and we went into an executive session which is the normal practice to welcome one another and discuss issues that we believe pertain to the burning issues on ground.

“In this case, the issue of the 2016 budget and the smooth workings of the Senate and the National Assembly were discussed. Now, the statement we issued yesterday remains unchanged.
“Today, all we did was to confirm what exactly is the true picture of this situation and in my capacity as a spokesman of the Senate, I did not go to press with falsehood.

“One thing that is obvious is we have passed the budget, so what is important now is for the budget to be signed. The constitution has taken note of this kind of scenario where you may have omissions or shortfalls of allocations and Section 81 of the constitution is very clear on what you need to do which is to sign the budget and then submit a supplementary Appropriation Bill.

“I want to assure you that the Senate is not unmindful of the cries of Nigerians that we said, for example, that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the budget does not in any way undermine its importance.

“It is a very, very important project for this nation to embark on and so the National Assembly, the Senate is open if the executive brings a supplementary appropriation with respect to this issue and any other issue that they feel very strongly about.
“We are ready and willing to consider such but the most important point to note is that we want to remain guided by the provisions of the constitution.

“I think if we do that, all these raging controversies will be off our backs and we can all concentrate and put our energies to begin the process of implementing the 2016 budget so that those dividends of democracy – the youth unemployment issue, the empowerment of women, the social intervention programme, the infrastructure programmes, the agricultural programmes, can be addressed.

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