There are indications that the Senate would this week resume a comprehensive work on the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which had dragged in both chambers of the National Assembly since last year, after President Muhammadu Buhari laid the proposal to a joint session of the parliament.
The anticipated resumption of work on the money bill followed a directive by President Buhari last Thursday, mandating over 50 heads of the agencies and parastatals of government had not defended their 2018 budget to immediately do so.
President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and the principal officers of the two chambers had last Thursday, visited the President at the Aso Rock Villa, apparently to intimate him with the progress on the budget and the reason it had not been passed by the National Assembly.
At the end of the meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, briefed State House correspondents, revealing that Buhari had asked him to issue a memo to the MDAs, directing them to go and defend their fiscal proposals before the National Assembly.
The Senate had issued ultimatum twice to the MDAs, to come and defend their budgets or face sanctions but the agencies did not adhere to the directives. On the first day of March 2018, the Senate gave the ministries and agencies that had not submitted their 2018 budget proposals to its various standing committees up to the end of the second week to do so, after which the committees would adopt President Buhari’s proposals as the actual proposals of such MDAs. The Senate took the decision following the oral briefing of the Chamber by the Deputy Chairman of its Committee on Appropriations, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), on the progress made so far on the Bill.
In spite of the threats, the MDAs remained reluctant to Honour invitations of the committees, compelling the leadership of the National Assembly to visit President Buhari on the matter. It is therefore, expected that the presidential directive through the SGF would move the MDAs to go to the apex assembly and submit as well as defend their proposals before the lawmaker.
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