The Nigerian Senate has passed for second reading, the N27.5 trillion 2024 Appropriation Bill presented by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Nov 29, for approval of the National Assembly.
The scaling of the bill for second reading at plenary on Friday, followed debates by lawmakers on the general principles of the bill.
The lawmakers, at the resumed the debate called for increased funding for road infrastructure, education, power, and agriculture, among other sectors in the country.
They also called for a reduction in borrowing and improved budgetary provision for security and sustenance of peace in the Niger- Delta for improved crude oil production.
On Wednesday, President Bola Tinubu presented a record N27.5 trillion as the proposed budget for 2024, before a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives and asked the lawmakers to expedite the consideration of the budget and ensure that the appropriation bill is passed before January.
Senator Adams Oshiomole (APC -Edo) said there was a need for appropriations to be made for the completion of the Benin-Auchi road, saying that the road was a major link connecting Nigerians from the six geo-political zones.
He said the eventual completion of the road would further help improve economic activities.
He said it was not for the Senate to be debating exchange rate, saying that determinants of exchange rate was a matter of microeconomic policies.
Senator Franchis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), who commended the 2024 budget estimates said there was a need for the masses to benefit from the content of the budget on implementation.
He called for the allocation of more funds to ensure the completion of roads in Osun state and other parts of the federation.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe(APGA-Abia)said not much was allocated to power as information indicates that less than 3 percent was allocated to power in the budget.
He said power was key to employment generation and optimal workings of other sectors and the economy in general.
He said the Senate would have to re-order the priorities in the budget for direct impact on the economy, going forward.
Other Senators, who emphasised the need to appropriate more funds for road infrastructure, and improve educational systems among other sectors include Senator Oluranti Adebule (APC-Lagos) and Senator Aba Moro(PDP-Benue).
Senator Moro said allocation to education should be based on UNESCO provisions, given the challenges in the education sector.
Former President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan commended President Tinubu for the budget.
He said the success of any administration was based on the support the legislature gives to the executive, saying that the National Assembly must continue to give support to President Tinubu.
He called on the senate committees to be interested on what happened on the implementation of the previous budgets of 2021,2022,2023 both supplementary and main budget.
Senator Lawan said emphasis must be placed on having a secured safe school for schools to function, and provision of enabling peace in the Niger-Delta.
He called for prioritisation of security in the 2024 budget, saying that security was key in attaining the required economic activities.
Last week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the 2024-2026 medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP), the parameters on which the 2024 appropriation bill will be framed.
The lawmakers approved $73.96, $73.76 and $69.90 per barrel as benchmark oil prices for daily crude oil production of 1.78 million barrels, 1.80 million barrels, and 1.81 million barrels, for 2024, 2025, and 2026 respectively.
Also, the parliament approved an exchange rate of N700/$, N665.61/$ and N669.79/$, as proposed by the federal government for the period 2024–2026.
Recall that President Tinubu, at his maiden budget presentation before the National Assembly said the proposed 2024 budget will ensure micro-economic stability, poverty reduction, and greater access to social security.
The president highlighted priority areas such as security, local job creation, macroeconomic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau Jubril, who concluded the proceedings referred the bill to the Committee of Appropriations.
The committee is to return back to the plenary on December 19 for further legislative input on the bill.