OrderPaperToday – The commencement of debate on the 2019 Appropriation bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday was almost stalled again following the discovery of grave errors in the document.
Some irreconcilable figures pointed out by a member, Mr. Adamu Chika (APC, Niger) caused the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to intervene by directing that relevant committees should liaise with the Budget Office of the federation to correct the errors.
In his submission, Mr. Adamu identified cases of mathematical errors in the ministries of budget and national planning, finance, among others. He said: “Before I make my contribution, I would like to raise some issues. I noticed particularly some errors in the national budget. The schedule in the budget consist of part A, which is the statutory transfers and part B which is the services, part C which is recurrent expenditure. I have issues with major ministries like the Ministry of Education, Finance, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
“When you go to the education ministry, in part C which is the recurrent expenditure which consist of both the personnel cost and overhead, you will realize that the budget is N462.2 billion and when you go to summary of the budget by MDAs number 41:0.5.1.8 personnel now has N539.6 billion overhead. There’s also another N33.5 billion now making the total recurrent expenditure when you go by the summary of the MDAs has charged to N539 billion and I don’t know why the figure was added at that level.”
These observations raised the mood for discontinuance of the debate but Speaker Dogara intervened and called for the continuation of the debate on the general principles of the budget, saying an error-free budget would be presented on Thursday.
He said the Ministry of Budget and National Planning had been put on notice to urgently correct some irreconcilable differences in figures presented in the bill.
However, there was a controversy whether members present formed a quorum or not as no fewer than 43 members had arrived for the day’s plenary when the debate had already commenced.
A point of order by Rita Orji (PDP-Lagos) noting that the House did not form a quorum of one-third as required by law was waived aside by Dogara who said that she was not in the position to determine the quorum of the House.
“You are not the keeper of the register, so you cannot determine quorum. This is politics time, some members come around to sign the register and leave. You don’t keep the register, so you cannot draw my attention to the issue of quorum,” he said.
Additional report by Lizzy Chirkpi