The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will ensure thorough screening of the 2016 budget estimates presented by Buhari.
The senate president who stated this shortly before Buhari presented the 2016 Appropriation Bill to the N’Assembly, also urged the executive to respect the judgments of the federal parliament in the course of their oversight activities.
He said, ” We acknowledge that the task of implementing the budget is primarily that of the Executive. But our recent experience has shown that even with the best of intentions, too much discretionary powers over budget matters are inimical to accountability.
“It is also true that impunity and corruption thrive best when the democratic safeguards for checks and balances collapse and accountability institutions abdicate their responsibilities. In this regard, the 8th National Assembly intends to discharge our oversight responsibilities fully.”
He therefore implored the president to support the lawmakers in the important task by ensuring that top government officials promptly respond to invitations for clarifications when they are required to do so by the National Assembly.
He said, “Mr. President, if only half of the unfolding allegations regarding financial misappropriation under the previous administration are true, they would already be sufficient evidence of the dangers that we face when public officials treat accountability institutions with disdain and oversight activities with irritation.
“I am confident that your avowed commitment to the rule of law and accountability would have no accommodation for such behavior. On our own side, we want to assure you that we shall only pursue that which is provided for by the laws and strictly within the ambits of the law.”
Saraki added that both chambers of the National Assembly would remain united in their support for the Buhari administration.
He said, “We both recognise that even as we seek to maintain the integrity and independence of our respective chambers, that autonomy must be embedded within the overriding responsibility we all have, to improve the quality of lives of our people and make them proud once again to be Nigerians.
“We recognize that a harmonious National Assembly is essential not only to Legislative progress, but also for the Executive to function effectively.”
The Senate President therefore urged Buhari to take advantage of the cordial relationship, which both arms of government had for a couple of years, to push through some of the necessary reforms that would promote our economy.
Saraki said, “In order to meet with the aspirations of Nigerians across all works of life, we expect that the budget must de-emphasis recurrent expenditure and prioritize the upgrade of infrastructure in order to achieve economic recovery and generate employment for our teeming population.
“The 2016 budget must also be bold and pragmatic in providing transparent incentives and conducive environment that will prime private sector-led development, encourage local production and promote made-in Nigeria goods.
“The National Assembly is conscious of the yearning of Nigerians for quick delivery of democracy dividends. The National Assembly has a critical role to play and we recognize this role.
“We are willing and ready to provide the scrutiny necessary to pass only a budget that can be implemented comprehensively to the letter.