OrderPaperToday – Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, has dismissed claims that legislators are involved in budget padding.
Enang also assured Nigerians that the series of rifts between the legislature and the executive would end in this year and that pending presidential nominations currently deferred by the Senate would be attended to in response to ongoing rapprochement behind the scene.
Speaking to journalists at the National Assembly on Tuesday, the presidential aide stated that legislators have a right to tinker with budget estimates proposed by the executive and that until the appropriation bill is assented to, anything such tinkering cannot be termed as budget padding.
Enang said: “In all my legislative years, padding is a new word in the legislative lexicon. So we have to define it as a new matter. In my opinion, padding is an illegal or unlawful insertion by a person who is not expected to do it in a legal, legislative document.
“Therefore, unless a bill has been passed and forwarded to Mr. President for assent, there can be no padding. If the bill had been forwarded to the president and something is inserted into that before it is assented to by any person and something is added different from what is in the votes and proceedings of the Senate and House of Representatives; that is what constitutes padding.”
On the testy relationship between the Senate and the Presidency, Enang said the latter is “engaging with the legislature particularly the Senate on this and the Senate is very sensitive to the public to what is likely to happen.”
On some stalled nominations by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said “they are going to attend to it. Any matter that is standing as an issue between the executive and the legislature which may be the reason for the embargo, we are going to address it and make sure it is surmounted.”
He further noted that “this year is going to be a very robust year in the executive-legislative relationship because Nigerians will see harmony, concord, cooperation and the best of relationship between the executive and the legislature. You are not going to have uncommon compromise you are going to have engagement not something combustible.”
Recall that the Senate on the 4th of July 2017 resolved to suspend all requests for confirmation of nominees by the executive due to power tussle, especially over the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
This has stalled Senate approval of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad as a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Director General of Lottery commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila.
Sen. Enang also queried the 7th assembly for alleged failure to carry out proper oversight on the executive which he said was responsible for massive corruption and stealing of public funds under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said: “If the committees in the 7th National Assembly were doing their work, by checking what was happening in the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Petroleum Ministry, we will not have had Diezani-gate and all the other gates.
“We will not have had all the probes and investigation. The legislature concentrated less that is why we are having the spill that the 8th Assembly is having. I feel guilty and I want to apologise. If the legislature did its duty like it is doing now, I think we will not have this situation.”