From FRED ITUA, Abuja
Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Na’Allah, on Tuesday, said that the National Assembly would not permit any padding in the 2017 budget.
Senator Na’Allah made the disclosure when the Rector and officials of the Nigerian Aviation College of Technology, appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation to defend the agency’s 2017 budget.
In 2016, the leadership of the House of Representatives was accused by the then chairman of the Lower Legislative Chamber’s committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumunin Jibrin of padding the budget.
The controversy eventually led to a delay in the passage of the 2016 budget. President Muhammadu Buhari who first raised the alarm, rejected the first draft copy of the approved budget and sent it back to the National Assembly. The budget was eventually passed in late March of 2016.
But Senator Na’Allah who serves as the vice chairman of the committee, said anything not captured in the original 2017 budget document submitted to the National Assembly should be resubmitted in the supplementary budget of the Federal Government.
He said: “We will not add anything that was not added in the original budget. If you want to increase the budgetary allocation, you have to send a supplementary budget. If we do that, you will accuse us of budget padding. We will not allow it.
“We want to ensure that public money is spend judiciously. We want to be sure that whatever we are approving for anything is what will buy the same thing. We have looked at your budget. We will do everything possible to give you what you want.
“We will also take out some money which we think you do not need. Since you are refleeting, you must tell us what your intentions are and what you intend to do with the old ones. Next week Thursday, we are going to the aviation college to see the state of the runway to see what is happening there.”
A member of the committee, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, while speaking, revealed that he will soon sponsor a bill to privatise the aviation sector. He said the current state of major airports in the country was of serious concerns to him.
Capt. Abdusalami Mohammed, Rector of Nigerian Aviation College of Technology, Zaria, could not respond to some of the questions posed to him by the senators.