January 16, 2021

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National Assembly gives ultimatum on budget

2 min read

By Sanni Onogu and Victor Oluwasegun, Abuja

  • Lawan, Gbajabiamila issue final word to committees

  • Speaker honours newspaper vendor killed by security aide

The National Assembly on Tuesday gave the various committees examining the 2021 budget proposals up till Friday to submit their reports.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave 22 standing committees of the Senate up till Friday to defend the budget proposals of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) they oversee to the Appropriations Committee.

House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila also gave some standing committees 48 hours to submit their budget reports to the leadership of the House.

Lawan, who spoke at plenary in Abuja, regretted that the Upper Chamber was behind schedule in its timetable for the consideration of the 2021 Appropriations Bill.

“We have not been able to complete the defence presentation by some committees to the Committee on Appropriation. We have 22 committees that have not gone to Appropriation to present the budget of their ministries or agencies.

“I want to remind us that that exercise would have been completed on November 18; today is November 24. It means we are short in our timetable by almost six days.

“We will provide the remaining part of the legislative days, probably up to Friday, for all those committees that have not been able to defend before the Committee on Appropriation to do so.

“By next week, the Committee on Appropriation will have to work to present the Appropriation Bill before the Senate and the House since they have to harmonise.

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“I understand some committees have some issues but I think we have to round off before Friday,” he said.

Gbajabiamila spoke on Tuesday at the resumed plenary of the House in Abuja.

The Speaker said the committees should use the two days’ grace to complete their budget defence reports.

The committees are those of Finance, Aviation, Army, Science and Technology, Commerce, Solid Minerals, Health Services, Health Institutions, Works and Basic Education.

They are to submit their budget defence reports to the Committee on Appropriation, latest by tomorrow.

Others are: Committees on National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Agriculture, Labour and Employment, Tertiary Education, Poverty Alleviation, Gas Resources, and Youth Development, amongst others.

The House had adjourned plenary from October 22 to November 24, 2020, to enable the lawmakers have adequate time to hold budget defence sessions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The period earlier given for budget defence and submission of reports to the Appropriations Committee was between November 11 and 18.

Gbajabiamila said the committees had 48 hours to “submit their budget, unfailingly, as it will close on Thursday and there will be no extensions”.

Also, the House honoured the deceased newspaper vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke, who was killed last Thursday by a security aide attached to the Speaker’s convoy.

Before the commencement of the plenary, leaders of the Abuja Newspapers Distributors Association (ANDA) and the Newspapers Vendors Association, Abuja (NVAA) had gathered in the chamber, following the invitation by the Speaker.