The Senate will pass this year’s budget before the end of next month, Ali Ndume said yesterday.
The Senate leader said the 2015 budget would end next month and it was the desire of the Senate to pass the 2016 budget before that time.
Ndume said contrary to reports in the media, the Senate did not suspend its passage indefinitely, but only said February 25 “may not be feasible”.
The Senate leader noted that it was the wish of the National Assembly to pass the budget five weeks before the expiry of the period set for the implementation of the 2015 budget.
But he explained that it would not be possible due to some errors.
His words: “We have not postponed it indefinitely; we are saying that with the developments we are seeing, the February 25 deadline may not be realistic.
“That is why we now said that going by this, it is not possible to say we will come back on February 25 and say this is the budget; we are not saying that we have suspended it indefinitely.
“The reason we fixed February 25 was because we wanted to have a gap of five weeks,” he said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The Senate leader said the gap would have enabled the Senate fix whatever issues that needed to be handled before the March 31 deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget.
The leadership of the National Assembly, Ndume said, met with ministers to iron out the grey areas and make corrections to the contentious areas.
He assured Nigerians that the Senate would ensure strict compliance with the implementation of the budget.
Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday exonerated President Muhammadu Buhari for the inconsistencies in the 2016 budget.
The lawmaker, who made the statement while receiving leaders of the National Association of Nigerians Students in Abuja at the weekend, said the civil servants should be blamed.
He said: “I’m going to absolve the President; but I’m not going to absolve the people that put it in. Why I must absolve the President, I will tell you.
“The job was done by civil servants; it’s always been done by civil servants
The President does not sit in a ministry, he doesn’t know what’s going on in a ministry or what they need or do not need.
“The argument can be that the buck stops at his desk. I agree with that. He must take responsibility. Under the constitution, he has the right to delegate his work to ministers. And he delegated the issue of budget and planning to the minister of Budget and Planning.
“Where I think the ball was dropped, was with the minister of Budget and Planning. Because after the civil servants, whether intentionally or not, did what they did, it was for the minister of Budget and National Planning to vet and scrutinise those things before coming to the House, or the National Assembly. It’s not for the President to do so.”
The lawmaker reminded the students that it was Buhari who first drew the attention of Nigerians to the issues in the budget.
Also, Senator Gbenga Ashafa yesterday assured Nigerians that the 2016 budget would be transparently passed and that there won’t be hidden figures.
Speaking with reporters in Lagos at the weekend, Ashafa promised that the Presidency and the National Assembly would not cover up for any shortcomings in the budget.
He assured the citizens that they would get the best from the budget.