By Tunde Adetunji, Abuja.
When his Asokoro, Abuja, residence was raided by the police, acting on a tip off, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, gave the impression that some of the documents on Budget 2017 removed by the detectives was the cause for the delay in working and passing the budget for presidential assent.
In panic, and with deft negotiations by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, the presidency ensured the documents were released within 24 hours of the outcry. Many concluded work on the budget preparation was a fait accompli for Thursday.
But, alas, the Senate failed the nation as it emerged that the work was not done fully; but Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has explained that “nothing spoil” and expenditure can still go on despite the expiration of the 2016 Budget law on Friday 6th May, 2017.
Like Lawan, he has said the document will be ready for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent into law after the Senate passes it next Tuesday.
The committee failed to submit the 2017 budget today though it was listed on the Order Paper for Senate deliberations and endorsement.
Said Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan: “I have also equally been informed that, by the grace of God, definitely the budget 2017 will be laid on Tuesday. Having said this, Mr President distinguished colleagues, I will move that we stand down this report to Tuesday the next legislative day.”.
Ekweremadu explains: “Let me also emphasize for the benefit of the public that we are minded 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 the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we passed we will now send the documents to the President for assent.
“I think this 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 and by the grace of God have it passed by next week and we send it to the President for assent.
“Let me also inform the public as well that the tenure of the 2016 budget ends tomorrow the 5th because it was passed on the 5th of May 2016 but under the constitution the Federal government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to the 30th of June, 2017.
“But 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 next week, we passed it so that implementation will start in earnest. So I just want to appeal for the understanding of the people of Nigeria.