The delay by the Senate in commencing the process of passing the 2019 budget has become a subject of disagreements amount senators particularly along party lines.
Immediate past Senate Majority Leader (APC, Borno) Ali Ndume accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership in the National Assembly of frustrating the early commencement of debate on the appropriation bill.
However, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara), faulted Ndume’s submission, stating that most APC have also not been present in chambers.
Ibrahim argued that there is no truth in the allegation that the PDP was frustrating budget debate, pointing out that such allegation is borne out of mischief.
On the Minimum wage issue, Ibrahim said at the end of Wednesday sitting, no communication had come from President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that until such communication is initiated by
Senator Ndume who made the allegation on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists on happenings in the National Assembly and in the polity generally, said as far as federal lawmakers belonging to the ruling APC, are concerned, the budget can be attended to within a week and passed but the leadership of NASS headed by lawmakers on the platform of the PDP, seems not to be interested in the consideration of the budget proposals for now.
“Though federal lawmakers on the platform of APC are more in number than their counterparts in PDP but since it is the PDP lawmakers controlling the leadership of both chambers , the speed at which any executive bill, particularly the 2019 Appropriation Bill before us now will take , lies with them.
“Those of us in the APC at both chambers have the passion and the will to effect expeditious consideration and passage of the 2019 budget proposals but the required speed for that lies with the leadership , topmost of whom are PDP members “, he said.
When reminded that the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe) who was supposed to move for commencement of debate on general principles of the budget or his Deputy , Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi), were not around on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said the required move and speed for such legislative exercise lie with the two presiding officers and principal officers.
He, however, commended the House of Representatives for kick starting debate on general principles of the budget on Wednesday, which according to him, will propel such legislative business in the Senate very soon.
He added that the required expeditious consideration that should be given the 2019 Appropriation bill , should be extended to the expected minimum wage bill.
According to him, Nigerian workers deserve living and not just minimum wage, a view he feels many of the other lawmakers share.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja