National Assembly plans one-month window for budget defence.

 Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja.

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Nigeria’s National Assembly says it will provide a one-month window dedicated to budget defence to ensure early passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, stated this on Friday while speaking with State House correspondents after prayers at the Villa Mosque.

Lawan said there was need for the executive and legislative arms of government to work together for timely passage of the bill, which has, over time been cause of friction between the two arms of government in Nigeria.

“This requires that we sacrifice in the National Assembly as well as the executive side of government; that we create a window for budget defence only, a dedicated period and time frame; say a month, of which only budget defence will be carried out in the National Assembly.

“It is our desire in the NASS that every minister and every chief executive officer of any agency comes to the NASS and defends the budget of the agency before going out of the country.

“That window is going to be available, but that is the only window that will be available.

“After the one month, any minister or head of agency that does not come forward to defend the budget of that institution the NASS will go ahead to work on such a budget appropriately.”

Early presentation.

Senator Lawan also called for early presentation of the budget estimates to the legislature, saying with that the budget could be passed in three months.

“Every Nigerian wants to see the National Assembly pass the budget in good time.

“That’s what we have in mind, we’ve campaigned with that, and it is something that all of us in the National Assembly have bought into: that we pass the budget within three months by the grace of God.

“But I want to say here that it takes two sides of government to pass the budget in good time.

“And I am sure that the executive arm of government would like to see a situation where the budget is presented before the NASS in a good time like September or early part of October.

“By the grace of God, we in the NASS will make sure that we carry out the budget defence and then we do the remaining part of the processes and before we leave for  Christmas break, the budget would have been passed and the president would have the budget to sign.”

Synergy

The President of the Senate said that 9th National Assembly would work with the executive arm of government in partnership and synergy “to perform the functions of government as a single unit.

“I also foresee a NASS that will insist that whoever has a responsibility in government performs that responsibility because it takes all of us to work together to ensure that no part or nobody is left behind.  If there is anyone that is deficient, it will cost the system.

“We are going to catch up the lost ground over the last four years.  I am sure that we did not perform to our capacity as National Assembly in the last assembly.

“This time around, we want to perform to full capacity and by the grace of God, Nigerians will see difference, positive difference, in terms of delivery  of service to our countrymen and women.”

Lawan said that he was looking forward to a National Assembly that would be focused, united and patriotic to perform its statutory functions effectively.