The report by the joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations on the 2018 Appropriation Bill was not laid at the Senate before the chamber adjourned plenary to Tuesday next week.
The Senate cancelled today’s (Thursday) plenary to allow members of the All Progressives Congress caucus to prepare for the local government area congresses of the party holding on Saturday.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Monday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, in company with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the report would be laid this week, while the passage of the budget would be done later in the week or by next week.
“Hopefully, it should be laid this week. If it can be laid this week and passed early next week. We are hoping it will be laid this week,” Saraki had said.
Corroborating Saraki, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, while featuring on the breakfast current affairs show of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday, said the report would be laid this week.
Briefing journalists after the plenary on Wednesday, Sabi-Abdullahi, however, said, “It was supposed to be laid this week but they are putting finishing touches. They are being careful not to make mistakes. The report will be laid on Tuesday and by Wednesday, we will approve it.
“The good thing is that it is the harmonised version (that will be laid). So, whatever is laid in the Senate will be laid in the House of Representatives, and it will be considered and passed the same time.”
The House of Representatives had defended the National Assembly’s failure to pass the 2018 Appropriation on Thursday as earlier planned.
The House stated that some details of the N8.612tn budget had yet to be fine-tuned by the Joint Committee on Appropriations.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, had last Thursday said the budget was scheduled for passage last week but had to be shifted to this week.
The joint Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and the House of Representatives was expected to present the report on the budget in the two chambers on April 19 but the report has since not been laid.
In another development, the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, raised a point of order at the plenary on Wednesday to urge the Senate to lift the embargo on executive appointments and confirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Senate had imposed an embargo on consideration and confirmation of appointments not listed in Section 171 of the Constitution. This was to protest against the retention of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite the rejection of his appointment by lawmakers.
Sani said, “Nigeria’s central bank is the only central bank in the whole of Africa without a board. And when there is no board, there is a limit to the ability and capacity of the management of that institution, which has a pivotal role to play in our economy, to manage the affairs of banks and function properly.”