By Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate
The Senate on Thursday reintroduced a bill seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO).
The bill, which was passed by the 8th Senate on May 3, 2019, however, failed to receive assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The move seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget office was first conceived in 2005 under the Senate Presidency of Senator Ken Nnamani, but failed to make it to the floor of the upper chamber.
Again, the idea to introduce the bill in the 6th Senate under the leadership of Senator David Mark was aborted as it failed to receive the required support for its introduction.
The Bill was first introduced on the floor of the 7th Senate under Senate President David Mark, and sponsored by the Senate Leader at the time, Victor Ndoma-Egba. The bill however never made it to becoming law.
Following its reintroduction on Thursday, the bill which scaled first reading on the floor during plenary was sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North).
The proposed National Assembly budget office will report annually to the Senate and House of Representatives all items funded in the preceding financial year for which no appropriation was made by the National Assembly and all items contained in the Appropriation Act in the preceding financial year but which were not funded by the Federal Government.
The office is to be headed by a Director-General, who shall also report to a governing board made up of a chairman and six members and shall “provide independent and continuous review of the federal government budgets including monitoring of existing and proposed programmes.
“Provide independent unbiased analysis of the budget of the National Assembly and assist all the committees of the National Assembly in developing their annual budgets.”
Essentially, the NABRO bill will provide assistance to all committees in both chambers of the National Assembly including but not limited to information with respect to budget and all bills relating to new budget heads; information with respect to estimated future revenue and changing revenue conditions.
Besides, the Director-General shall obtain information, data, estimates and statistics directly from ministries, departments and agencies. More than that, the new law provides that “the Director General may, upon agreement with the head of any MDA utilise its services, facilities and personnel as needed by the (National Assembly Budget and Research) Office.”
Besides the NABRO bill, nine others scaled first reading during Thursday’s plenary. They are: National Industrial Court Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central); Court of Appeal Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege; Nigerian Maritime Zones Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019, by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East); City University of Technology Yaba Bill, 2019, by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West).
Others are: Federal College of Agriculture Ofoni, Bayelsa State (Est.) Bill, 2019, by Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor (APC, Bayelsa West); Police Act CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross Rover South); Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Senator Abdullahi Adams (APC, Nasarawa West); and Federal Medical Centres Bill, 2019, sponsored by Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rovers West).