Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:15 pm
Contrary to its promise on Wednesday, the National Assembly on Thursday failed to lay the 2016 budget for commencement of consideration and passage.
The parliament had first reneged on its earlier promise to pass the Appropriation Bill on Thursday, a date it gave to Nigerians after it failed to pass the bill on Feb. 25 which it pledged.
Senate spokesperson, Abdulahi Sabi, had at a news conference on Wednesday said that the National Assembly would be unable to pass the budget on Thursday but would have it laid by the Appropriation Committee for consideration.
However, Thursday plenary of the Senate was concluded without mention of the 2016 Budget.
But, briefing newsmen after plenary, Sabi said that the bill would be laid next week.
He said that the Senate had not failed Nigerians by not keeping to its word “as the postponement was still within an acceptable error margin’’.
“We are here to let you know that as of today, we are unable to lay the 2016 Appropriation Bill and thus, we are hoping next week that process will be completed.
“When I briefed you, I recalled you were asking if the passage will be completed by next week; and, we said ‘yes’ when you lay the budget the next thing is for you to discuss the budget and get it passed.
“The two activities will be carried out next week God willing.
“As far as we are concerned, we have not failed. What is happening is the seriousness with which we take the 2016 Appropriation.
“It’s such that we cannot also afford to make errors that will become very costly to this nation.
“We have finished all necessary work within the context of the various committees. But remember, when you do the paper work, you have to also get people who will sit down and check.
“That is what we call data cleansing and integration; that is the two appropriation committees must integrate, that is the essence of what you call harmonisation,” he said.
He added that the National Assembly was trying not to do the work in a haste and also make mistakes which was why the `data cleansing’ had to be done without haste.
“In everything you do, you must give freedom for degree of error. And, plus or minus, five is the basic standard that I’m aware of.
“Within this context, if next week we will be able to take this, then within that margin of error, the National Assembly is still on course.
“We call on Nigerians to understand that we are as eager as you to get this budget out but at the same time, we owe you a duty to ensure that the budget will be implementable,” Sabi said.
In his contribution, spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas, added that the budget was the most important bill and as such mistakes could not be afforded.
He also promised that the budget would be passed next week.