The Nigerian Senate postponed the passage of the 2023 Appropriation Bill in order to collaborate with the Executive in the appropriation of the budget.
This was disclosed by the Senate spokesman, Senator Bashiru Ajibola.
Ajibola, who appeared on Politics Today on Friday, a Channels TV programme, which was monitored by our correspondent, said the budget had to be streamlined to ensure that an allocated project did not appear more than once under different Ministries.
He added that such issues arose when the committees interrogated secretary-generals of the MDAs for the various allocated projects, noting that there had to be bilateral agreements between the Assembly committees, and those of the Executive.
“The reality is that one of the areas where the executive and the legislative arms must necessarily collaborate is in the area of making appropriation law. And in this regard, the draft that has been sent by the Executive to the National Assembly will have to be worked upon by the various appropriation committees of the National Assembly, that is the two chambers, the Senate, and the House of Reps.
“It is just a question of what has been allocated and whether what has been put under a particular ministry ought to be in those ministries. So, there’s a need to streamline. If you make an allocation, for instance, that has to do with construction, and that had been serviced under, for instance, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, that must be put properly within the agency that has the necessary vires to be able to carry out that responsibility.
“It was in the course of engagement with the MDAs and interrogating the secretary generals of the MDAs that these issues arose, and then, there has to be some kind of bilateral discussion between the relevant committees of the National Assembly, and that of the Executive. And I believe as I am speaking, those areas have been streamlined, and by the grace of God by Wednesday, the clean budget will be approved by the National Assembly. And because the clean budget has been worked on, on a bilateral basis, we are optimistic that before midnight 31st December, Mr. President will assent, and it will be billed to become law.”
The lawmaker also revealed that the Senate wanted to ensure that it found a balance between sectoral allocations within the budget and not exceeding budget caps under each of the MDAs, noting that the budget presented for 2023 was already a heavy deficit budget.
“It doesn’t really affect the cap, but in terms of sectoral allocation of the budget, and of course you know, as the National Assembly, we are not bound by the cap that has been given by the President. If as representatives of the people, we think that certain areas are not well covered. Of course, we may make adjustments in order to reflect what we think would further good government of the country.
“So, the National Assembly necessarily, they are not bound by it, but at the same time we cannot afford to be reckless, because there must be a correlation between allocation in terms of expenditure and expected revenue, particularly in the context of a heavy deficit budget that is being presented for 2023. So, we need to be cautious in terms of sectoral allocation and the cap that has been given to each of the MDAs.”