senate

The Upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to come clean on the 2016 Budget, admit its errors and sign the document “without any further delay.”

The Senate also advised the Presidency to “stop engaging in surreptitious campaigns of calumny against the Senate in order to cover up its serial errors”.

In a statement issued by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, on the alleged removal of some vital proposals made by the Presidency, the Senate said the National Assembly is bent backwards to wiring a coherent document out of the excessively flawed and chaotic versions of the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly.

Senator Abdullahi added that the responsibility and power of appropriation lies with the National Assembly.

“While the executive is mandated to prepare and lay before the National Assembly a proposed budget detailing projects to be executed, it should be made clear that the responsibility and power of appropriation lies with the National Assembly.

“If the Presidency expects us to return the budget proposal without any adjustments, then some people must be living in a different era and probably have not come to terms with democracy.

“We make bold to say, however, that the said Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and we challenge anyone who has any evidence to the contrary to present such to Nigerians.”

In relation to the controversy over the budget, the upper chamber has demanded the resignation of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

On behalf of the Senate, Senator Aliyu said, “this latest antics of this particular Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is reckless, uncalled for and dangerously divisive.

“Apart from setting the people of the Southern part of the country against their northern compatriots, it potentially sets the people against their lawmakers from the concerned constituencies and sets the lawmakers against themselves. This manner of reprehensible mischief has no place in a democracy.

“We hereby demand from Mr. Amaechi a publicly-tendered apology, if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar road project was included in the budget. Otherwise, he should resign forthwith”.

READ FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Press Release

April 11, 2016

Senate to Presidency: Enough is Enough, Stop Setting the People Against Us!

The Senate today (Monday, April 11) advised the Presidency to come clean with Nigerians on the 2016 Budget and stop engaging in surreptitious campaigns of calumny against the Senate in order to cover up its serial errors.

Reacting to claims in the media credited to the Executive arm of government on the 2016 budget, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, in a statement in Abuja, said the National Assembly had bent backwards to wring a coherent document out of the excessively flawed and chaotic versions of the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly.

He said : “while the executive is mandated to prepare and lay before the National Assembly a proposed budget detailing projects to be executed, it should be made clear that the responsibility and power of appropriation lies with the National Assembly. If the presidency expects us to return the budget proposal to them without any adjustments, then some people must be living in a different era and probably have not come to terms with democracy.”

“We make bold to say however, that the said Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and we challenge anyone who has any evidence to the contrary to present such to Nigerians.”

Since the beginning of the 2016 budget process, it is clear that the National Assembly has suffered all manners of falsehood, deliberate distortion of facts, and outright blackmail, deliberately aimed at poisoning the minds of the people against the institution of the National Assembly. We have endured this with equanimity in the overall interest of Nigerians. Even when the original submission was surreptitiously swapped and we ended up having two versions of the budget, which was almost incomprehensible and heavily padded in a manner that betrays lack of coordination and gross incompetence, we refused to play to the gallery and instead helped the Executive to manage the hugely embarrassing situation it has brought upon itself; but enough is enough.”

“This latest antics of this particular minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is reckless, uncalled for and dangerously divisive. Apart from setting the people of the southern part of the country against their northern compatriots, it potentially sets the people against their lawmakers from the concerned constituencies and sets the lawmakers against themselves. This manner of reprehensible Mischief has no place in a democracy. We hereby demand from Mr. Amaechi a publicly tendered apology if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar road project was included in the budget. Otherwise, he should resign forthwith.

“Finally, by the provision of Section 81 (4) (a) and (b) of the constitution, the President is allowed to sign the budget and kick-start the implementation of the other areas that constitute over 90 percent of the budget where there is agreement between both arms, even as we engage ourselves to resolve the contentious areas, if there were any. We therefore maintain that even this contrived discrepancies are not sufficient excuse not to sign the budget into law.”

“We therefore urge President Buhari to sign the 2016 budget without any further delay. For every additional day that the president withholds his assent from the bill, the hardship in the land, which is already becoming intolerable for the masses of our people gets even more complicated. Certainly, as primary representatives of the people we shall not vacate our responsibility and watch the people continue to suffer unduly.”

Signed

Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs

READ SENATOR GBENGA ASHAFA’s STATEMENT HERE:

PRESS RELEASE FROM SENATOR GBENGA ASHAFA ON THE CONTROVERSIES SURROUNDING THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTS’S BUDGET:

April 12, 2016 News 157 Views

I have carefully followed the news items making the rounds in relation to the budget presented to the National Assembly and what was defended by the Ministry of Transport before the Senate Committee on Land Transport which I have the privilege of chairing.

The focal points of controversy seem to be the Lagos to Calabar railway modernisation projects and the completion of the Idu – Kaduna rail line.

I confirm that the Lagos to Calabar rail line was not in the original document that was presented to the National Assembly by the Executive. However subsequently at the budget defense session before the Senate Committee on Land Transport, the Hon. Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, did inform the committee of the omission of the Lagos to Calabar rail modernisation project and indeed sent a supplementary copy of the ministry’s budget to the committee which contained the said project.

The minister noted that the amount needed for the counterpart funding for both the Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar rail modernisation projects was in the sum of 120 Billion Naira, being 60 Billion Naira per project.

While the committee did not completely agree with all the changes made in the subsequent document, being fully aware of the critical importance of the rail sector to the development of our dear country, distinguished members of the Senate Committee on Land transport keyed into the laudable (Lagos to Calabar, rail modernisation) project and found ways of appropriating funds for the project without exceeding the envelope provided for the ministry.

In so doing, the committee observed that the Lagos to Kano rail rehabilitation project had been allocated the sum of N52 Billion Naira as against the sum of 60 billion which the Hon. Minister requested as counterpart funding while no allocation whatsoever was made for the Lagos to Calabar rail line.

Hence, the sum of 54 billion Naira that was discovered by the Senate Committee on Land Transport to be floating in the budget of the Ministry of Transportation as presented by the Executive was injected into augmenting the funds needed for counterpart funding of both projects (Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar Rail modernisation), as at the time the committee defended its report before the senate committee on Appropriation. The Lagos to Calabar rail modernisation project was therefore included in the Senate Committee on Land Transports recommendation to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

With regard to the Idu to Kaduna rail completion, the Senate Committee on Land Transport did not interfere with what was provided for in the budget as sent by the executive, being approximately 18 Billion Naira hence I am equally surprised to read on the pages of the newspapers that the amount allocated to the said project was reduced by 8 Billion Naira.

While I would have preferred to wait till Tuesday 12th April, 2016 when the National Assembly reconvenes in order to have the benefit of viewing the details of the budget that was conveyed to the executive as passed, I am compelled to place the facts in proper perspective as it relates to the activities of the Senate Committee on Land Transport.

Without prejudice to the considerations and powers of the Senate Committee on Appropriations with regard to the appropriations process, the foregoing is the true reflection of what transpired at the committee level with respect to the Land Transport sector of the Ministry of Transport.

Author: Yemi Olarinre