Senate President Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, gave the Senate Committee on Appropriations till Wednesday this week to conclude budget defence by subcommittees of the upper chamber.
Lawan who gave the directive at the plenary explained that the ultimatum became necessary in keeping with the December 14 timetable for the passage of the 2022 budget by the National Assembly.
He added that working to the contrary may mar the timely passage of the budget as planned.
The Senate President, nevertheless, assured Nigerians that the National Assembly would work assiduously in ensuring that it resolves any likely hitch that may interfere with the quick passage of the budget next month.
He commended ministries, departments and agencies of government for appearing before the committees of the chamber to defend their respective budget estimates.
Lawan said, “According to our timetable for the budget defence and subsequent processing by out committees or subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee, tomorrow will be the last day for the budget defence.
“Tomorrow will be the last day for the budget defence by subcommittees for appropriation before the committee on appropriations.
“It is gladdening that all our committees have finished their budget defence with ministries, departments and agencies as programmed by this Senate. But we have a little bit of a hitch, we are behind schedule with some of our committees.
“So, I’m sure that those committees that should have appeared before the committee on appropriation, but could not might have had some challenges with getting some details from the MDAs.
“Tomorrow, no matter what, we have to conclude with the budget defence by the subcommittees before the committee on appropriations, and it is very important.”
Explaining why work on the budget must be concluded in good time, Lawan said, “In fact, it is very, very essential that we keep to our timetable, otherwise, we may run into a very serious problem with our time for the budget to be considered and passed by the 14th of December.
“I’m sure that our committees will be able to appear before the committee on appropriations by tomorrow.
“I will also add that the Committee on Appropriations should make itself available to our subcommittees for appropriation.
“We have up to the weekend to conclude on the work of defence by the subcommittees before the appropriations committee, so that the appropriations committee is able to also work to compile the document for us to work with, when we come to the next segment for the budget processing – that is the laying, consideration and passage of the budget proposal by the grace of God.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all our committees for doing very well so far, and I’m sure that this little hitch is not something that we cannot deal with.
“On the whole, the program is going on, and I’m particularly glad that we have been able to finish the defence by the MDAs, and also commend the MDAs for coming forward to defend rather than leaving us to do what we think they want.”