Senate seeks effective use of budgets

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigerian Senate

The Nigerian Senate has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen all instruments of legislative oversight.

This is to ensure that public officials utilise appropriated funds to improve the welfare of all citizens, especially in critical sectors like health.
The development followed a budget defence session to review the 2016 budget performance and defence of the 2017 budget proposal for the primary health care development agency.   
The Chairman of the Senate committee on primary health and communicable diseases,  Senator Mao Ohuabunwa said “the quest by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies for more funds to be appropriated in this year’s budget must be justified by evidence of effective use of past budgets to meet the organisation’s mandate.’’
Focus on direct activities
He expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the 2016 budget in the area of primary health care, which is put at 75%.
Senator Ohuabunwa urged those that implemented the budgets to focus more directly on activities that help to promote the Agency’s mandate in rural communities.
“This is showing that we did our oversight very well because if we didn’t do it very well, we wouldn’t have been able to identify some lapses in the budget performance. What we saw is not in tandem with what is brought before us, so we have asked them to go and reconcile their documents before our next meeting,” he stated.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Primary HealthCare Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaibu appealed for more funds to be appropriated to the Agency in 2017.
According to him, the funds will enable the Agency to execute its mandate, particularly in the area of capacity building for midwives.
Dr. Shuaibu explained that “such additional funding would fast track government’s desire to reduce cases of maternal mortality across the country.”
The meeting is to continue next week before a final presentation will be made to the Senate committee on Appropriations, ahead of passage of the 2017 Appropriations Bill.
Mercy Chukwudiebere