Thursday, May 4, 2017 2:41 pm
The Senate on Thursday, failed to lay the 2017 Appropriation Bill in plenary, contrary to its promise to Nigerians that the bill would be passed before Friday.
The tenure of the 2016 Appropriation Act would end on Friday.
Against expectations, the Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, moved a motion for the bill to be stepped down till Tuesday. The motion was seconded by Deputy Minority Leader, Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha.
Lawan said that he had been informed that the budget would be ready and laid on Tuesday and therefore, urged the lawmakers to wait until that day to have the report from the Appropriation Committee.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, explained that the development was to enable both chambers of the National Assembly to complete the budget harmonisation.
He said that though the senate was billed to receive the report on Thursday, it was informed in the morning that it was important for “it to be on the same page’’ with the House of Representatives.
“Let me emphasise for the benefit of the public that we were to receive this report today.
“It was only this morning that it was necessary for us to be sure that we are on the same page with the House of Representatives to avoid any possible conferencing.
“So, what we like to see is the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we pass it, we will now send the documents to the President for assent.
“I think it is important that the point be made and the public know that the harmonisation which is going on should be concluded over the weekend to enable us receive the budget report by Tuesday.
“By the grace of God, we will have it passed by next week and we send it to the President for assent,’’ Ekweremadu said.
He assured that the national assembly would do everything possible to see that the bill was passed next week in view of the fact that the tenure of the 2016 budget would end on May 5.
According to him, the 2016 budget was passed on May 5, 2016 but under the Constitution, the Federal Government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to June 30, 2017.
“We will not allow us to get into the reliance on the constitutional provision. Hopefully, by the grace of God, we will have this budget passed next week so that implementation will start in earnest.
“I just want to appeal for the understanding of the people of Nigeria,’’ he said.