OrderPaperToday – Amidst widespread public expectations, the National Assembly on Thursday, failed to lay the 2016 budget for commencement of consideration and subsequent passage as earlier promised.
The parliament also avoided being categorical on when it would pass the budget but simply said “next week by the grace of God.”
Recall that spokesperson of the Senate, Sen. Abdulahi Sabi had on Wednesday at a joint news conference said the National Assembly would be unable to pass the budget on March 17 as earlier promised.
Sabi had however promised that the budget would be laid by the Committee on Appropriation on Thursday before the Senate for commencement of consideration.
But Thursday’s plenary at the Senate was concluded without any mention of the 2016 Budget.
While briefing newsmen after plenary, Sen. Sabi said that the bill would be laid next week, explaining that the Senate had not failed Nigerians by not keeping to its word as the postponement was still within an acceptable margin of error.
He told reporters: “We are here to let you know that as of today, we are unable to lay the 2016 appropriation bill and thus we are hoping next week that process will be completed.
“When I briefed you, I recalled you were asking if the passage will be completed by next week. And we said ‘Yes’ when you lay the budget the next thing is for you to discuss the budget and get it passed.
“The two activities will be carried out next week God’s willing. As far as we are concerned, we have not failed. What is happening is the seriousness with which we take the 2016 appropriation.
“It’s such that we cannot also afford to make errors that will become very costly to this nation.
“We have finished all necessary work within the context of the various committees. But remember when you do the paper work, you have to also get people who will sit down and check.
“That is what we call data cleansing and integration; that is the two appropriation committees must integrate: that is the essence of what you call harmonization.
“In everything you do, you must give freedom for degree of error. And plus or minus five is the basic standard that I’m aware of.
“Within this context, if next week, we will be able to take this, then within that margin of error, the National Assembly is still on course.
“We call on Nigerians to understand that we are as eager as they you to get this budget out but at the same time, we owe you a duty to ensure that the budget will be implementable.”
In his remark, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas added that the budget was the most important bill and as such mistakes could not be afforded.
He also reiterated the promise that the budget would be passed next week.
It will be recalled that the Senate, earlier proposed to pass the bill on February 25, 2016 but was not able to fulfill this task due to contentious issues of alleged padding.
Meanwhile, by the calendar of the National Assembly, lawmakers are due to go on break next week to observe the upcoming Easter holiday.