Fred Itua, Abuja
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Executive to submit the country’s annual budget to the National Assembly in September or October of every year.
According to Lawan, early submission of the budget will afford lawmakers the opportunity to pass it within three months before embarking on Christmas break. He said this practice would return the country to the January-December budget circle, in contrast to the current practice where annual budgets are submitted in December.
The Senate President who spoke when he hosted members of Senators’ Forum, a body of former lawmakers headed by former Senator, Khairat Gwadabe, said: “We don’t have any doubt. We know the challenges. We will work hard to find solution to the challenges. We will pass the budget in three months. All we require is for the Executive to submit the budget on time. At least, September or October.”
“If that happens and we get it, we will pass the budget before Christmas. We need to return to the January to December budget circle.”
He also defended the jumbo pay of lawmakers and insisted that the National Assembly needs to be more funded to enable it carry out its functions.
“We will make the National Assembly open. Nigerians will know what we are doing here. My salary is about N750,000. But I need to function as a lawmaker. We need to be well funded.
“The National Assembly needs to be more funded because we are very important in a democracy. Nigerians need to know these facts. They need to understand what we are doing here. Once we get on the right track, the sky will be our limit,” he added.
Lawan called on aggrieved members of political parties to let go of the past and allow the National Assembly work in the interest of the country.
He noted that under his watch, the Parliament will take the issue of oversight seriously and ensure that heads of government agencies carry out their statutory functions
“This kind of interaction is very important. It gives us the opportunity to share experiences. There are things that are challenging to us that we can share with you.
“The ninth Senate is a bipartisan Senate. What that means is that, we will remain focused and work for Nigerians. What we have done is to be patriotic. Nigeria is our constituency.
“The challenges before Nigeria are very massive. We need to work for the economy and ensure that things work for everyone.
“We don’t need to fight anyone. We will follow the path of peace. Every minister or head of an agency must function. At the end of the day, Nigerians should benefit from this,” he said.
For her part, Gwadebe said members of Senators’ Forum are always ready to support the National Assembly in any capacity.