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Senate leadership tussle: Lawan assures on delivering January-December budget cycle

Ahmed Lawan
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Senator Ahmed Lawan, who is contesting for the position of Senate presidency under the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has promised to institute strong processes and procedures that will address Nigeria’s lingering budgetary delays which often arise as a result of Executive/ Legislature bickering.

Lawan who is leading contender for the Senate Presidency, while fielding questions form Journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, identified the budgetary challenge as “ a crisis in Nigeria”

If he emerges as the leader of the 9th National Assembly, Lawan faces, among others the huge challenges of fixing the current crisis in the country’s budget process; ensuring independence of the legislature to be able to check the executive and judiciary arms, while also fostering needed collaboration; ensuring to a large extent that bills passed by the legislature are good enough to be assented to by the president and save the country the huge resources it looses on inefficient appropriation; as well as making laws that will help to boost the lives of the citizens.

“I agree with you even though the crisis varies from time to time. Sometimes it may be a crisis of 3 months and even up to 7 months.”

Ahmed who expressed the belief that “ we can turn this around with the right attitude” said the National Assembly and the executive arm of government must work together to tackle the delays.

Explaining how the senate under his leadership will ensure the timely passage of budget, Lawan stated, “In fact, we should attempt to make the budget cycle 1st January to 31st Decemberbecause it is important for our businesses in this country and outside and Nigerians should have 12 calendar months of budget implementation because that will translate into massive infrastructure development, provision of services.”

The protracted budgetary crises is often the course of delayed execution of government projects with instances of abandonment of projects after several years of poor funding.

But Lawan said his regime asChairman of the National Assembly will afford opportunity to create the necessary Executive/ Legislature synergy as he hopes to run a leadership style that will cooperate with the Buhari’s administration to ensure prompt delivery of government policies

“Our approach would be that in the National Assembly, we talk amongst ourselves, both in t(e senate and the house, that we want to pass a budget within theee months and if we agree on that, then we will also have to agree on how to achieve that.

“We will approach the executive arm of government and agree on this, because we know that for Mr President, there will be nothing more than having a budget passed in three months. And I’m sure it is the same for Nigerians, it will be a huge relief, if we can do that.

“we shouldn’t leave the shores of Nigeria for anything unless for health reasons, we must stay around and ensure we have a time framed budget defense, like we devote one whole month for budget defense, meaning no plenary unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

“So we tell the executive that no minister or Chief Executive Officer of an agency should leave this country unless it is absolutely necessary and inevitable without defending his or her budget of that MDA.

“That one month window should be the only window for budget defense, if any any of the officials fails without cogent reasons, to defend the budget of his agency, then that window will be shut and the National Assembly will treat that budget proposal as it deems fit with all the necessary safeguards to ensure there’s no abuse.

“After the budget defense, we should have two solid months to have all the analysis we need, all the sub committees to submit their defense also to the appropriations committees in the house and the Senate.

And it’s is our hope, desire and prayer that the before the Christmas break of the National Assembly, the budget should have been sent to Mr President for his assent. We believe that this is achievable,feasible, doable, all we require is the will and I am sure everyone of us in the 9th National Assembly will have this kind of intention that what we have to give to Nigerians is to set this issue right.

Lawan said unlike the previous experiences, it is his desire to “have a Senate and NASS that works for Nigerians, to tackle issues of insecurity, ensure and all inclusive economy growth as well as get maximum from the resources applied efficiently and optimally”

“We will be a Senate of 109 members even though the APC will likely by in majority, “he stressed.we will seek harmony across parties and engage and work with senators across all political parties for the good of the nation,” he stressed.

“As a Senate with APC Majority, we will work with opposition to ensure we deliver on the policies and programs of the President.”

He disclosed that the National Assembly under his leadership will not be a rubber stamp adding that all actions will be guided by Constitutional provisions

“We do not believe in rancour. When we disagree, we are supposed to develop a mechanism that will resolve those issues. We are going to agree on most issues because we are all citizens of this country. Majority will have their way while the minority will have their say. I won’t stand the risk of overriding the majority opinions “he said.

Senator Yahaya Abdullahi who is the leader of his campaign organization said they are confident in Lawan being the most experienced, being clean by all standards, and having the capacity to lead the 9th Senate and Nigeria to what he called an enviable position.

 

Onyinye Nwachukwu and Tony Ailemen, Abuja

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