The two chairmen of committees on appropriation in the National Assembly have appealed to their colleagues to drop the debate about who is right or wrong in the 2016 budget controversy as it does not advance the interest of Nigerians.
In a joint statement on Sunday, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin said that they have had enough of controversies over the 2016 budget and are prepared to do the needful to resolve the differences.
They appealed to their colleagues to cooperate with the executive and transmit the details of the budget and the inputs received from the standing committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“We call on our colleagues in the National Assembly to accede to the request by his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to have a second look at the details and make the necessary adjustments so that he can assent.
This, they said, should not go beyond this week.
They also described several allegations against them as baseless but noted that what is important is to resolve the impasse around the budget and get it assented to so that its implementation can begin in the interest of all Nigerians.
The statement read in part, Even though most of the allegations, especially those specifically levelled against the two of us, as chairmen of the committee, are unfounded, we intend to respond to them at the appropriate time. For now, what we consider important is to resolve the impasse around the budget and get it assented to.
Given the foregoing, and all factors considered, we hereby state that we have had enough controversy over the 2016 budget. What is needful right now is a resolution of the differences and to that end
This, in our opinion, should not go beyond this week.
To the extent that there are already ongoing consultations, a debate about who is right or wrong is unhelpful in the circumstance; and in any case, does not advance the cause of our country men and women whose interest we have been elected to serve.
Nevertheless, we must commend President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and the entire members of the National Assembly, members of the federal executive council, the Minister of Budget and the budget team for their cooperation even as we assure all Nigerians that we will do everything to protect and defend their interest, at all times.
Senator Danjuma Goje Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, says the delay in the signing of the 2016 budget is not as a result of inaction by the National Assembly but because the President is yet to be convinced to sign the document.
He spoke during a political program
Mr Namdas explained that it would amount to “jumping the gun” if he went ahead to mention the grey areas, as the President was yet to make a statement on the matter since the budget controversy started.
He noted also that the House of Reps could not have made any decision without the Senate and this explained the meeting which held between both chambers last week.
“The principal officers of the two chambers have met over the document and they have also resolved to meet with the President so that together they can examine the grey areas and the interest of the President.
“Then we will come back to the chamber, reexamine the document this week and I believe that all these issues will be resolved amicably,” he said.
Lagos-Calabar Rail Project
Mr Namdas also cleared the air on the controversial Lagos-Calabar rail project, and the position of the National Assembly on the issue if it emerges among the grey areas the President refereed to.
“We have not in any case removed the railway project. It is a document that was brought to us by Mr President. It is not in the first document and it is not in the amended version.
“But if it is among the grey areas the President wants us to talk about, we have assured Nigerians that it is a very nice project and we will take it.”
He explained that the National Assembly has mainly been concerned about the need to follow due process in the approval of the project.
“All 360 of us have copies of this budget and there is no way a document would escape the first reading (and) escape the second reading only for us to find it at the committee level and (it is expected) of us to make use of it; that is not always the case,” he said.