The Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to endorse the 2016 Appropriation Bill as passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, instead of engaging in an avoidable bickering with the legislature.
The upper chamber, which resumed from the Easter recess on Tuesday, went into a closed-door session which lasted for over an hour, where it resolved to push for the President’s signing of the budget bill.
At exactly 11.30am, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki walked into the chamber where the lawmakers agreed to toe the line of constitutional provisions on the passage of the budget rather than continuing with the faceoff with the Executive arm of government.
Briefing news correspondents on the outcome of the closed-door session, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Abdullahi Sabi (Niger North), said the upper chamber had resolved not to go back on the passed 2016 Appropriation Bill for any adjustment arising out of the Executive’s short-sightedness or omission.
The Senate, he said, will be guided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as far as the 2016 Budget is concerned and urged President Buhari to save Nigerians from further hardship by signing it into law.
He said: “I think we have made that point very clear and we would definitely remain guided by the tenets of the Nigerian Constitution as we do whatever we were supposed to do. Now, one thing that is obvious is that, yes, we have passed the budget. Nigerians are asking: what next for us? What is important now is for the budget to be signed by the President.
“The Constitution has taken note of this kind of scenario where you may have omissions or shortfalls of allocations and Section 81 of the Constitution is very clear on what you need to do, which is to sign the budget and then submit a supplementary Appropriation Bill,” he said.
On the controversial Lagos-Calabar rail project, the spokesperson of the Senate assured Nigerians that the upper chamber is not unmindful of their worries on the omission of the project in this year’s Appropriation Bill, adding that such Executive omission does not in any way undermine the fact that it is a very important project for the nation.
He said that since the upper chamber was guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, if the Executive brings a supplementary Appropriation Bill with respect to the Calabar- Lagos rail project and any other issue that it feels strongly about, “we are ready and willing to consider such, but the most important point to note is that we want to remain guided by the provisions of the Constitution.”