With the spreading news of sharp practices during the 2016 budget considerations, Leader of the Nigerian Senate, Mohammed Ali-Ndume has denied the allegations that the budget was ever “padded”. Sen. Ndume He, instead, said that the National Assembly did its constitutional duty of making necessary inputs to the budget. He said efforts were on to improve their relationship with the Executive, informing that lawmakers have not been selected to be praying with the President every Friday.
Ndume who spoke to State House Correspondents after Friday worship with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said that the aspersion against the national assembly vis-a-vis the budget was blown out of proportion especially in the media. He added that the current face-off between the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the erstwhile Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin over the budget was an expression of personal grievances. He said:
“The issue of budget pgadding is more of a media hype than reality. We are not doing budget now. We only have Appropriation Act which is a law and you know the process of implementing a law. I do not know where the issue of this budget padding we are talking about is coming from. If we are not to tinker with the budget as submitted by the President, then there would not have been the need to submit it to the National Assembly. We have the constitutional duty to add, subtract and adjust. That was what was done.
“This is the first time we did a budget that was collectively produced in the sense that it was done in such a way that the Senate, House of Representatives and the Executive played different parts.
“This time, the President took his time to ensure that he did not only sign on the budget, but also signed on budget details that he is satisfied with. What is happening now is a fallout between individuals. It is more of personal thing between Dogara and Jibrin. That is not the way differences should be settled. We have an in-house process that is followed if we have such issues. I am personally involved in reaching out to the parties involved.”
Ndume also stated that the National Assembly had moved to cement its relationship with the Presidency and the Executive arm of government and as a result had appointed three persons each from both chambers to be worshipping with the president at the Villa mosque every Friday. He also said that the Legislature was synergizing with the Executive to chart a new way forward for the indigenes of North East who were now being threatened with hunger and diseases after the war against insurgency had been won. He also called on the international organizations, Non-governmental organizations and spirited individuals to assist the people in the region.
“We are trying to improve Executive and Legislature relationship. Part of the way is for few selected members of the National Assembly to join the President in prayers on Fridays. That is why we are here. “As you can see, there are three members of the House of Representatives and three members of the Senate. You will be seeing more of this in the near future in order to cement our relationship.
“The fight against Boko Haram, with the commitment of the present government, is almost over. We are currently facing another war: that is fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Government is also bracing up to that. We are crying out for help in the North East, particularly in Borno.
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