The Senate has assured Nigerians that the controversy surrounding the 2016 budget will be laid to rest on Friday, even as it promises that the appropriation bill will be ready for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent on that day.
Senate Minority Leader and Leader G77, Godswill Akpabio stated this today after the group’s meeting in Abuja.
The group is made up of first time senators from the three political parties of All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP).
Recall that President Buhari refused to give his assent to the 2016 budget on the grounds that the National Assembly mutilated the appropriation bill. He therefore forwarded a letter to the National Assembly last week, listing the grey areas.
Some of the capital projects affected include the N60 billion Lagos-Calabar rail project which was allegedly removed by lawmakers; reduction of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway by N24billion; reduction of Second Niger Bridge by N3.9billion; Benin-Sagamu Road slashed by N800million; Kano-Maiduguri-Ngala Rail cut by N260million amongst others.
Akpabio who described the situation as ’embarrassing’, said the Senate is doing everything within its powers to correct errors in the budget.
He said: “The lingering issue on the budget is something that we feel is embarrassing to Nigeria, not just to the National Assembly as a whole. If we had a group like this, by now that issue would have been brought to an end. But just to reassure you that Mr President will have his budget. And we are doing everything possible to rejig the details of the 2016 budget for Mr President to sign as soon as possible. And we hope we can finish that by this Friday so that things can kick-start in the Nigerian economy”.
According to him, the intention of the group is not to confront the Executive arm of government but to deepen democracy, ensure the sanitisation of the Senate, shore up the image of the Senate and give the President the needed support.