Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President of the Senate of Nigeria, Ahmed Lawan, has said henceforth, heads of ministries, department and agencies will only have a one-month window to defend their budget, otherwise, the National Assembly would go ahead to work on such a budget appropriately.
He gave the warning while fielding questions from State House Correspondents after observing the Juma’at prayers with President Muhammmadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Senator Lawan, also assured that the country’s annual budget would be passed in three months. According to him, to achieve this target, the executive and the legislature must cooperate and work together harmoniously.
Recall that under the Eighth Assembly led by past President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, the country’s budget spent between six and seven months before passage.
Lawan who was elected on Tuesday as the President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly said budget would be considered and passed within three months.
On the timely passage of budget bill, Lawan said: “This is a crucial thing that worries everyone, every Nigerian wants to see the National Assembly passes the budget in good time and what we have in mind we’ve campaigned with that and it’s something both of us in the National Assembly have bought into – that we’ll pass the budget within three months by the grace of God. But I want to say here that it takes two sides of government to pass the budget in good time and I am sure that the executive side of the government would like to present the budget before the National Assembly in good time, in September or early October, and by the grace of God, we in the National Assembly, will ensure that we carry out the budget defence and do the remaining parts of the processes and before we leave for Christmas break, the budget would have been passed and Mr President would have the budget before him to sign.”
Continuing, he mooted the creation of a dedicate period and timeframe of about a month during which only budget defence duties would be carried out in the National Assembly: “It is our desire in the National Assembly that every minister, every chief executive officer of every agency comes to the National Assembly and defend the budget of his or her agency before going out of the country. That window is going to be available within one month but that is the only window that is going to be available. After that, for example, every minister or head of agency who did not come to defend the budget of that institution, the National Assembly would go ahead to work on such a budget appropriately.”
Lawan, who intoned that “nobody takes pleasure in wasting the time of this administration,” further stated: “We are in a hurry, we are thirsty to perform, we want to support Mr President, we want to see Mr President achieve those legacies dreams that he has and we are going to work full course and full time to ensure that we give him the maximum support that he requires.”
The Senate President speaking on what is to be expected of the Ninth Assembly, assured Nigerians that they will be very focused, united, patriotic and nationalistic.
He said: “The expectations from Nigerians is a National Assembly that is very focused, that is very united, that is very patriotic and nationalistic and that is by the grace of God, the National Assembly that we shall have.
“From my interactions with my colleagues when I was contesting, every Senator there has one massive experience or another. I saw my colleagues exhibiting patriotism and desire to work for Nigerians and therefore we hope to have a National Assembly that will work for Nigerians optimally and patriotically.”
Similarly, he hinted at the prospect of a cordial relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of the government.
“We also hope to have a National Assembly that will work with the executive arm of government in a partnership and synergy to ensure that we perform our functions as a government because we are a single unit. I also foresee a National Assembly that will insist that whoever has a responsibility in government performs that responsibility, because it takes all of us to work together to ensure that no part or nobody is left behind,” he said.
Lawan, who asserted that deficiency on the part of the constituent parts of government would be detrimental to the system assured that the National Assembly is going to work to recover the lost grounds of the past four years.
“I am sure we did not perform to our capacity as a National Assembly in the last assembly. This time around we want to perform to full capacity and by the grace of God, Nigerians will see a positive difference in terms of delivery of service to our countrymen and women,” he said.