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Senate defers debate on 2017 budget bill till Tuesday

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Segun Olaniyi, Abuja   |   05 May 2017   |   4:40 am

The Senate during a plenary

• Saraki seeks special protection for lawmakers
• Upper chamber seals deal on funding of Lagos-Ibadan expressway
• Tasks Fashola on repair of Okene-Auchi-Ekpoma road
• Wants FG to tackle boat mishaps on River Niger

The Senate has postponed the consideration and passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill till next week Tuesday. The upper chamber yesterday said the shift became imperative because its appropriation committee was yet to conclude work on the budget bill.

Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, while providing explanations on the failure of the Senate to receive and treat the report on the budget bill, said members of the Senate committee on appropriation were currently meeting with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to resolve grey areas.

According to Lawan, the budget report is expected to be laid on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Besides, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over yesterday’s legislative session, said that money could still be spent from the 2016 budget till the end of June 2017.

In another development, Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday said that the National Assembly would take appropriate steps to guarantee maximum protection for senators and members of the House of Representatives.

He said that the National Assembly could no longer tolerate the culture of threats and harassment of its members in whatever guise. The Senate President, who spoke while inaugurating an ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate to investigate the alleged assassination attempt on Dino Melaye, and the raid of the home of Senator Danjuma Goje, both serving lawmakers in the Eighth National Assembly, stated that the Senate would not hesitate to invoke its legislative powers to deal with further incidence of harassment and intimidation of lawmakers.

Saraki, represented by the Senate Leader, said investigation into the assassination attempt on Melaye must be properly done by the committee so as to protect members of the National Assembly against infringement and threats.

The Chairman of the committee, Jibrin Barau, said though “the circumstances surrounding these two unfortunate (Dino and Goje) incidents are still unclear”, the panel would probe deeply into the matter so as to report appropriately to the Senate.

However, the Senate has sealed arrangements that will facilitate private-sector funding of the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

A source disclosed that Saraki led the Senate “through successful engagements to facilitate necessary collaboration that will result in the complete rehabilitation of the strategic Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in two years, with private-sector funding.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to urgently repair, reconstruct and dualise the Okene-Auchi-Ekpoma road.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North), the upper chamber urged the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the works ministry to urgently repair the failed portions of the road, especially Auchi Ewu-Ekpoma sections.

It also mandated its Committee on Works to carry out effective oversight on the project before the rainy season commences fully, adding that the ministry should urgently mobilise contractors to site.

Also, worried by the incessant boat mishaps on River Niger, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to immediately conduct a survey into the stretch of the river with a view to putting safe navigational aid in place.

It also specifically directed the Ministry of Transportation through the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to urgently step into action on the matter.




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