President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered his ministers, heads of departments and agencies of the Federal Government to appear before the National Assembly committees to defend their 2020 budgetary proposals.
This is as the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, has reiterated that the National Assembly would devote only the month of October to budget defence, warning that any Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA) that fails to utilise the window would not get another opportunity.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony of the 9th House of Representatives legislative agenda, President Buhari said anything short of compliance to the directive was akin to undermining the cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.
Represented by the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, the President, who recalled the warm reception accorded him when he presented the N10.3 trillion 2020 budget at the National Assembly last Tuesday, pledged to sustain the cordial relationship between the executive and legislature.
He noted that the legislative agenda was a step in the right direction since it was aimed at addressing the multifaceted problems besetting the country.
Lawan, who also spoke at the event, said the National Assembly would resist all forms of antics by the MDAs capable of delaying the passage of the budget before the end of the year.
“I will like to take the opportunity here today to say that only the window of October is available for budget defence. Any minister or any head of agency who decides to travel out of Nigeria without defending his or her budget will have no opportunity again to defend that budget. The National Assembly will do the appropriate thing — work on the budget and pass it.
“We will not allow anyone to frustrate our desire to pass the budget 2020 before the end of this year. So, it is an opportunity for everyone who is supposed to defend his or her budget to take the opportunity available.”
Lawan said the two chambers of the National Assembly collectively took the decision to pass the budget before the end of the year.
“Already the House has suspended plenary. The Senate will do the same on Tuesday next week for the consideration of budget defence by the MDAs.”
Underlining the urgent need to address infrastructural deficit in the polity, he said the National Assembly would leave no stone unturned to block revenue leakages in the country.
He disclosed that the resolve by the National Assembly to pass the bill to amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract next week was aimed at generating over N300 billion annually to finance the budget.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that the legislative agenda was in line with the desire of the lawmakers to live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
He said: “Poverty and inequality, insecurity and strife are the products of policy choices. They are not the result of some inherent flaws in our nature, or a consequence of an absence of God’s favour on our endeavours. We have it in our power to remake our world, to make it better, to say that no child born in this generation will die of a preventable disease or fail to receive an education because his family can’t afford one.
“We are entirely capable of building a society where our daughters and our sons are protected from the perversions of those who will seek to break their spirits and take innocence from them. We are the ones who can build highways that run from the deepest creeks of the delta through the savannahs of the west, to the farthest north so that through trade we might achieve prosperity, and through prosperity, an honourable peace.
“We have codified in these pages an ambitious agenda that we absolutely intend to achieve. First among these, is to reform the way the House of Representatives manages its own affairs in every area from the administration of our finances to the operations of the committee system and the process of vote taking and recording in the House. Our goal is accountability and transparency because as we seek to drive reforms across the government, we are obliged to make sure our own House is in the best order.”