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Lawmakers’constituency projects delay 2023 budget

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and John Akubo, Abuja
23 December 2022   |   4:30 am
The renewed face-off between the executive arm of government and the National Assembly has constituted a cog in the wheel of the 2023 budget.

Senate fixes December 28 for passage of Appropriation Bill
The renewed face-off between the executive arm of government and the National Assembly has constituted a cog in the wheel of the 2023 budget.

The failure of the N819.5 billion Supplementary Budget Bill submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, to address earlier complaints by the lawmakers with regard to their Constituency projects heightened the face-off.

Many lawmakers, who were aggrieved by “selective execution” of previous budgetary provisions for key infrastructural projects, disclosed that the fate of the 2023 budget was worsened by the refusal of the executive to provide for the completion of many Constituency projects.

The lawmakers, many of whom are members of the Appropriation Committee of the Senate, blame the Ministry of Works for refusing to accommodate their constituency projects in the N819.5 billion extra budget bill submitted by Buhari on Wednesday.

An emergency meeting of the Senate Committee on Appropriation to find ways of addressing concerns of members was characterised by outrage by aggrieved lawmakers.

Chairman of the committee, Sen. Jibrin Barau, was forced to adjourn the meeting and lawmakers insisted that there must be a closed-door session where frank deliberations on the issues could be achieved.

He suggested that all the sub-committees on Works and Housing be allowed to do legislative work on the budget bill and report back to the Appropriation Committee today.

As things stand, the fate of the 2023 budget bill lies in the extent to which the Appropriation Committee can address the lawmakers’ grievances.

MEANWHILE, the Senate has blamed the failure to pass the 2023 Appropriations bill, as earlier scheduled, on some errors from the executive’s end.

Indications to this emerged when the budget report was not listed on the Order Paper for yesterday’s legislative activities.

The lawmakers had gone into a closed-door session shortly after the plenary, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the closed-door session, said the 2023 Appropriation Bill could not be passed as scheduled because the Appropriation Committee could not complete their work on the budget report.

He blamed the executive arm of government for submitting the budget proposal laden with errors very late.

According to him, the two chambers have to harmonise the copy to be able to present the report for passage on Wednesday, December 28, 2022.

Lawan also assured that the implementation of the budget would still commence on January 1, 2023.

His words: “We were not able to receive the report of the committee because the appropriation bill came to the National Assembly with some problems and when our committees on appropriation in the Senate and the House started to reconcile the figures of what we have done and what was presented, the problems became very obvious they were not easy to deal with.

“Therefore our committees had to start the process of cleaning the bill first. That problem also engaged the executive arm because the problem came from there.

“It was concluded only yesterday and our committee secretariat are not able to finish processing the budget for us to take today (Thursday), tomorrow (Friday), Saturday or Sunday. Monday and Tuesday are public holidays.

“Consequently, we can only receive the report and consider it on Wednesday, December 28. That is the earliest.”