The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Tuesday that the desire of the ninth Senate and indeed the National Assembly is to have the budget cycle return to January to December. Lawan spoke shortly before the Senate adjourned for a two-month recess which was initially delayed to allow for the confirmation of the 43 nominees of the President for ministerial appointments.
The screening exercise which started last Wednesday was concluded on Tuesday with the confirmation of all the 43 nominees. “The budget 2020 is going to be part of what we want to do differently from the previous sessions of the Senate,” Lawan said. Lawan said the expectation of the lawmakers is that the 2020 appropriation bill will be presented to the National Assembly on their return from the recess in September.
“It is our prayer and hope. It is desirable that that is done,” Lawan said. “Once that is done, it is our intention in the Senate and in the entire National Assembly that we devote a month of, possibly, October for budget defence only. “In a situation that we are able to achieve that, no more budget defence after October.
“Any ministry or agent of government that fails to appear to defend it’s budget, the National Assembly will take an appropriate action so that we are able to have November and a week or two in December to process and pass the budget and send it to Mr President to sign in December before Christmas.
“We believe that if we are able to do that, our budget will go back to that regular cycle, that desirable cycle of January to December and that will enhance the budget performance of this country.”
Lawan commended his colleagues for their sense of patriotism and commitment to duty in the prompt confirmation of the ministerial nominees. He said the Senate is prepared to work with the executive for optimum performance but warned that the ninth Senate will be stiff when it comes to discharging it’s oversight functions.
“We are going to take our oversight very seriously because we will devote our time here to do the right thing and we expect that ministers and heads of government agencies will also do the right thing. “Nigerians are desirous of going to the next level and we can only go to that next level when we are able to work together to make Nigerians and Nigeria better in terms of service delivery,” Lawan said.
The Senate President advised ministers to always respond to any invitation by the National Assembly adding that “while we are not going to be frivolous, we are going to be firm and serious with our oversight.”