Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
As the Nigerian Senate gears up for resumption on Tuesday from its annual recess, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has stated that the process of fast-tracking the 2020 budget and security challenges facing the country would dominate plenary.
Senator Lawan made the disclosure on Friday while speaking with newsmen in Abuja.
He disclosed that he was delighted by the news that the Presidency had since sent a request for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework to the Senate as a prelude to the 2020 Budget.
He stated that the lawmakers would be willing to work on the budget and pass it before they proceeded on December break.
He said: “I am hopeful and very optimistic and very hungry and thirsty, to receive 2020 appropriation bill from Mr President. I am aware that the executive arm of government is working assiduously to ensure that the 2020 appropriation is submitted to the National Assembly before the end of this month.
“The National Assembly is working so hard to ensure that we are able to pass the budget 2020 before we go on the Christmas break.
“This is one issue that we hold very dearly we want to see that we reverse the undesirable trend of six months work on the budget; we believe that we can achieve this and that will make this economy better it will make our economy more predictable; this we believe will have a desirable impact on Nigerians.
“I have been informed that the executive arm of government has sent a request for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework to the Senate and we hope to take the MTEF within the first legislative week.
“That is the first thing we will do and of course, the committee on finance will be saddled with its first assignment to ensure that it works judiciously on the MTEF/Fiscal Strategy Paper report, therefore, the budget will come after that.”
“We would also do those things that will ensure that the security situation in the country improves and this we will do together with the executive arm of Government as we cannot do it alone. In the 8th senate, we had an ad-hoc committee which reviewed the architecture security in the country. We are going to look into that report and in addition to looking into other very contemporary issues that affect the security situation of the country. ”
On the South Africa xenophobic attacks, while commending the efforts of the Federal government in securing the lives and property of Nigerians at the receiving end of the onslaught, the Senate President restated the Senate’s willingness to collaborate with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to protect Nigerians wherever they are resident in any part of the world.
“We are also going to look into the crisis that affected Nigerians abroad especially in South Africa. Recall that we reviewed this before we went on recess. The Senate felt that as an institution, citizens diplomacy needs to be improved upon and strengthened. Nigerians need to be protected whenever they chose to go on their legitimate businesses in the world. The government must be there for them and I am happy that after the xenophobic crisis, the Federal government of Nigeria was able to take a very definite position but going forward we need to be much more resolute. No matter what the situation is, our citizens must be protected. If someone runs foul of the laws of a country there are processes and procedures for the defaulters to be prosecuted, and so let us try to protect our citizens but also tell our citizens that wherever they are, if they chose to visit any country they should stay within the limits of the laws of that country they chose to stay. The same thing goes for any foreigner that comes to live in Nigeria.”