The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Solomon Adeola, declared that the Senate should not be held responsible for the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget.
Adeola, who spoke in Ilaro, Ogun State at the sidelines of end-of-the-year party organised for members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), hinted that this year’s Appropriation Bill is likely to be passed by March or April, this year.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last November presented N8.612 trillion budget to the National Assembly for the 2018 fiscal year, with many Nigerians expecting expeditious passage by the legislators.
But yesterday, Adeola, representing Lagos West Senatorial District on the platform of APC, absolved the Senate of any blame in the passage of the budget estimates.
He bemoaned what he described as lackadaisical attitude of ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government in defending their fiscal proposals towards enabling the Senate to pass the budget in record time.
He explained that unless the Senate is provided with necessary documentation as well as facts and figures to work with, the Senate could not just rubber stamp the 2018 budget.
Adeola said, “As you can see the last time, we’re trying to work round the clock to ensure that by 31st of December, if possibly for the first time, in our nation’s history we can pass the budget in a record time.
“But as it were, documentation and facts and figures that we need to buttress all items of transaction, both in the recurrent and expenditure as contained in that particular document, is not given to us by these ministries and the lackadaisical attitude of the various agencies of the government, both the ministries and parastatals, is nothing to write home about.
“It is when they are prepared to defend these figures as contained in that document that we can be looking at the record time in passing this budget. Since we don’t have all these documentation and the figures to work with, it will be difficult for us as a National Assembly; we can’t be rubber stamp.
“Yes, the government has submitted their document, their proposal, their policy in numerical term called budget. But we have the option to look at these issues critically and analysed if the N8trillion budget as proposed by the president is achievable or not. And that can only be done if the right documentation, figures are given to us.
“But if we are going to pass 2018 budget in a record time, there is need for us to know the performance of 2017 budget. We cannot be preemptive. We need to look at the performance upon which we can predicate whatever we are doing with the 2018 budget. And if all these documentations are not given to us, there is little or nothing we can do as a National Assembly.
“So, we are hoping the Executive takes this seriously, look inward and ensure that all necessary documentation that will assist the National Assembly in considering this budget before us should be forwarded to us so that we can work round the clock and give Nigeria this document in a record time maybe by March or April this year.”
Adeola, who restated commitment to his gubernatorial ambition in Ogun State in 2019, said he had no rift with Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The senator, popularly known as Yayi, promised to formally declare his intention to run for governorship at the state secretariat of APC “very soon.”
He said, “Soon, you will be hearing from me and I can assure you at the right time, I will be there (party secretariat). I will be there at the right time to declare my intention to run for the number one seat of the state.
“Working with the governor is the least of the problem, I have no issue with the governor. Our issue is political based. 2019 is around the corner if Yayi is going to contest or not, time will tell and we shall see.”