President Muhammadu Buhari has temporarily banned international travels by all Cabinet Members and Heads of Government Agencies to enable them personally lead the process of budget defence at the National Assembly.
A statement by Willie Bassey, director of information, office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the temporary ban is to enable the officials provide the required cooperation for the timely passage of the Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly.
“Honourable Ministers who have already secured approval to travel are by this directive, required to revalidate such approvals with Mr. President after confirming the Schedule of Appearances with the relevant Committees of the National Assembly.
“Furthermore, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their Schedules of Budget defence,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said on Friday that the National Assembly will not allow Ministers or Heads of Government Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to frustrate it from passing the 2020 Budget proposals by December, a statement by Mr. Ola Awoniyi, his Special Adviser on Media has disclosed.
“The National Assembly will do the right thing; which is to work on the budget and pass it,” Lawan said at the unveiling of the Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives.
“We will not allow anyone to frustrate our desire to pass the 2020 Budget before the end of this year. So, it is an opportunity for all those concerned with defending their budgets, to take the advantage,” Lawan said.
The Senate President has been consistent in his desire to reverse the current unpredictable financial year to a more predictable January to December cycle of budgeting.
To achieve what some people consider a tall order, the leadership of the 9th National Assembly has repeatedly warned government officials to take advantage of the opportunity to defend their budget estimates on schedule.
Lawan, who is also the Chairman of the National Assembly, said: “one thing that we have collectively decided in the National Assembly, is to pass the budget 2020 before the end of the year.
“Already, the House has suspended plenary; the Senate will do same on Tuesday next week for the consideration of budget defence by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
“Only the window of October is available for budget defense. Any Minister or Head of Agency who decides to travel out of Nigeria, without defending his or her respective budget would have no opportunity to do so.”
Lawan commended the House of Representatives on the prompt passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) just like the Senate did.
Lawan stated that “this shows the commitment, capacity and willingness of the House to work assiduously for Nigeria to make progress”, stressing that “we are going to work jointly to ensure that we maintain and sustain this momentum.”
He said the desire of the 9th National Assembly is to ensure that Nigerians get better services.
On the Legislative Agenda that was unveiled, Lawan said both Senate and the House of Representatives have many things in common adding that the two chambers have great deal of understanding of positive things for Nigeria.
He said that even though the legislative agenda of the two chambers are separately treated, “we have the same mission; and it is to take Nigeria to greater heights in the next four years.”
Lawan added that the next thing is to transform and translate the prevailing stability within the two chambers into productivity by way of legislative implementation of the legislative agenda.
The Senate last month deliberated on its Legislative Agenda and adopted it.