• As Senate fast tracks passage of electoral amendment, others
Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, revealed that the country’s revenue gap in the 2020 budget has hit $14 billion.
Lawan, who hinged the shortfall on over-dependence on oil, made the disclosure while welcoming senators from their two-month annual recess.
“We were confronted with an over $14 billion revenue gap and the grim reality of an unwholesome over-dependence on oil. We cannot over emphasise the need to focus on other important sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, steel development and manufacturing, with a view to diversifying our economy. We need to work with relevant stakeholders to prevent our economy going into a recession, stimulate the economy, save and create more jobs through a sustainable multiplier effect.”
He told his colleagues that President Muhammadu Buhari, would next week, present the 2021 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.
He said the National Assembly would dedicate the whole of October to public hearings for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and by November and December, the Senate would round off the hearings and budgetary review before going for Christmas break.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted our budgetary plans, requiring the review of the 2020 budget. We must carry out oversights to ensure that the revised 2020 budget is properly implemented. The oversights are even more imperative as the revised 2020 budget is targeted at addressing the specific challenges occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate needs to pay particular attention to the implementation of the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan. This strategic plan is an essential means of revamping our economy, as it provides interventions in the Mass Agricultural Programme, Infrastructure, Mass Housing Programme, Investments in Healthcare Infrastructure, amongst others.”
Lawan further revealed plans to fast track the repeal of the 2010 Electoral Amendment Bill and pass a new law to address grey areas in the electoral process of the country.
He said the 1999 Constitution (as amended) needed to be reviewed from time to time to improve the quality of governance and ensure stability in our polity. He said the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution had invited memoranda from citizens and organisations alike on the review.
“The Senate will ensure speedy work on the review exercise. Also the Electoral Reform Amendment Bills will be treated with despatch. We must ensure that we make amendments that will enhance free, fair, transparent and credible elections in our country,” he said.