Abuja – The National Assembly on Tuesday said it would not go back on its position on the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
Spokesperson of the Senate, Dr Abdullahi Sabi, told newsmen in Abuja that the 1999 Constitution had made provision for a supplementary appropriation in the event of omissions in the main budget.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there has been a controversy on the integrity of the budget, with the Executive and Legislature making different claims over it.
There were allegations in the media credited to the executive that the National Assembly tampered with some aspects of the budget, particularly alleged removal of Lagos-Calabar rail project from bill.
Sabi said that the national assembly was unmindful of the plight of Nigerians, and therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the budget.
“One thing that is obvious is that we have passed the budget. Nigerians are asking what next; what is important now is for the budget to be signed.
“The Constitution has taken note of this kind of scenario where you may have omissions or shortfalls of allocations.
“Section 81 of the Constitution is very clear on what you need to do, which is to sign the budget and submit a supplementary appropriation,’’ he said.
He said though the contentious Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the budget, the national assembly was willing to accept a supplementary appropriation to make budgetary provision for the project.
“That the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the budget does not in any way undermine the fact that it is a very important project for this nation to embark on.
“So, the National Assembly, the Senate is open if the executive brings a supplementary appropriation.
“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.
“We are a democratic institution and whatever we do we remain guided by the grand norm of the country which is the Constitution.
“I think if we do that all the raging controversies will be off our back and we can all concentrate and put our energies to begin the process of implementing the 2016 budget,’’ Sabi added.
According to him, the most important thing is for the budget to be signed to tackle unemployment, ensure empowerment of women, and kick-start the social intervention programme, infrastructural programmes and agricultural programmes.
He assured that upon signing of the budget, the national assembly would carry out oversight functions to ensure adequate implementation.
Sabi assured Nigerians that the assembly was committed to doing its work diligently while listening to their yearnings.
He urged the media to continue to assist the lawmakers in projecting the image of the legislature in positive light.
“We have said times without number and I am repeating it now so that Nigerians will know we really mean business in the 8th senate.
“I want to urge you to please help the senate in projecting the truth about this institution. It is an institution and it goes beyond me standing here.
`It goes beyond any individual senator; before us there were senators and after us there would be senators but what is important is that we have a duty to respect the sanctity of the institution of the senate and of course, the national assembly.
“I want to call on you to please keep up the good work and project what the national assembly is doing correctly.
“The senate is a listening senate; we will always take cue and to learn from our mistakes so that we can improve,’’ he said. (NAN)