Nigerian Senate set to pass 2017 budget

Cyril Okonkwo,Abuja

The Senate will pass the 2017 Budget next week and send it to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has said.

Senator Lawan gave this indication when he spoke to State House Correspondents after meeting with President Buhari  on Thursday.

“I am thinking that by next week we should be able to finish our own work and pass the budget for Mr. President to sign,” Senator Lawan said.

According to him, the National Assembly had intended to pass the budget in March, but could not do so because of “some parameters that we had little or no control over.”

He said plans to pass it in April also failed because of the raid by the police on the house of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, following information from a whistleblower.

Senator Lawan said documents relating to the budget were among those taken by the police during the raid.

He said the loss of the papers during the raid and the attendant trauma that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Goje, went through affected work on the budget.

Lawan said both the Senate Committee on Appropriation and that of the House of Representatives did not go on the Easter recess to enable them to work on the budget and lay it before the Senate and the House on resumption on April 25.

He said everything was being done to ensure the passage of the budget.

Continuous Engagement.

The Senate Leader said he was at the Presidential Villa to see the president as part of his continuous engagement with the executive to get executive bills and requests through in the Senate.

“I have come to meet with Mr. President as part of my engagement with the executive to ensure that I get my briefings right so that I can always market presidential bills and request so well and effectively,” Lawan said, describing the Presidential Villa as his second home.

He said there is there is inter-dependence of the three arms of government, making it continuous engagement and lobbying essential in democracy.

Ministerial nominees

Lawan said that the Senate would also consider the screening the two ministerial nominees submitted to it by President Buhari in March next week.

President Buhari had on March 28 this year submitted the names of Professor Stephen Ocheni from Kogi State, North Central Nigeria, and Suleiman Hassan from Gombe State, North East Nigeria, as ministerial nominess.

While Professor would take the place of the late Mr. James Ocholi, who until his date last year was the Minister of State for Labour, Mr would replace Ms Amina Muhammed who has been appointed Deputy Secretary General at the United Nations.

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