the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said on Monday that the National Assembly hoped to receive the final copy of the budget from the appropriation committee on November 28. He also said that the budget would be passed before the Christmas break.
The Senate President stated this while speaking at the 3rd convocation of the University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies Postgraduate Programme in Abuja.
Lawan said, “Between October 30 and November 5, 2019, the various committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to defend their presentations before the committees on appropriation.
“The October 29 deadline for budget defence is sacrosanct.”
The President of the Senate made a case for Nigeria to maintain a bi-cameral legislature consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives as presently constituted.
He said the adoption of a bi-cameral legislature was intended to address the country’s diversity and ethnic composition to ensure justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians irrespective of whether they are from the minority or majority ethnic groups.
He added that having a uni-cameral legislature might create problems of non-representation and exclusion from governance for the minority ethnic groups in the country, as well as inefficient representation for groups in the majority.
He said, “Nigeria has consciously adopted to have a bi-cameral National Assembly. It is because of who and what we are.
“The diversity of Nigeria and ethnic composition of the country require that we have a system that provides justice, equity and fair play.
“It is a conscious decision and design to ensure that everybody is represented in the country. We need a bi-cameral legislature in Nigeria.”
Reps knock mass literacy commission over unspent N220m allocation
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on the Diaspora on Monday knocked the National Commission for Mass Literacy for not executing capital projects in its 2019 budget.
The committee condemned the commission in Abuja when its management appeared before the lawmakers to defend its 2020 budget proposal.
Most of the Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies who had been to the National Assembly had lamented paucity of fund, saying that the amounts allocated to them were inadequate while the releases were meagre.
The lawmakers condemned the commission when it was revealed that N220m had been released to it (commission) by September, out of its N900m budget for 2019, but only N8m had been spent.
NCML is seeking approval for another N1.1bn budget for 2020.
Chairman of the committee, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, said the commission failed to deliver on its mandate as expected in the fiscal year, stating that the unspent allocation meant that the commission shelved many people-oriented programmes it was supposed to execute on behalf of government.
Akande-Sadipe queried the internal process of procurement in the commission, noting that something was wrong.
She said, “For better efficiency, something needs to be done. There are issues that have not be looked at as regards to your process. You said you couldn’t do the Diaspora issue because of crucial issues. If there were burning issues, how come the money wasn’t spent? It shouldn’t be money sitting in the bank account. You need to deal with your process so that once you make appropriation and the money is released…work on your processes.”
Earlier, a member of the committee, Mr Preye Oseke, stated that it was not necessary for the lawmakers to approve the 2020 budget proposed by the commission when it had yet to spend that of 2019.
“In your own case, you have N220m released to you, you only spent N8m. In next year’s budget, you have asked for more. N1.1bn for 2020 is unnecessary because you don’t need the money. You cannot have money that you have not spent and still ask for more. You don’t need this money. This money should be deployed to some places where it is needed,” he said.
In his response, the Executive Secretary of the NCML, Prof Abba Halidu, argued that the commission’s expenditure was prioritised. He urged the committee to give him till the end of the year to make more impact with the budget.
Halidu said, “The spending is in process. For every programme, we follow some certain steps in terms of implementation. You prioritised and spent on the ones. Work is currently going on, it is only when the contractor finishes that I pay him.
“Some of these activities are training programmes. We are instructed to roll over 2019 budget into 2020 budget. Of course, we have a time frame for projects. We will let you know when we will spend the money. I will give you reports on the implementation.”