The Senate has issued a two-day ultimatum to Ministers and Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to appear before its relevant committees to defend their agencies’ 2017 budgets or receive zero capital allocations.
The Senate warned that recalcitrant ministers and heads of MDAs who failed to appear within Thursday and Friday this week would have themselves to blame as the Senate suspended plenary till Tuesday to allow affected MDAs to appear before its committees.
Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who moved the motion to suspend plenary noted that the leadership of the Senate had been informed that some heads of MDAs failed to appear to defend their agencies’ budgets.
He opined that the Senate would have no other option than to pass the budget without considering the budget of any MDA that failed to defend its budget noting that it was discovered that there were issues pending to be resolved with some MDAs.
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, who underscored the implications of what Lawan said insisted that heads of MDAs must defend their budget on or before Friday declaring that the Senate would not allow few individuals to hold the country to ransom by flagrantly failing to honour invitations from committees.
He said that the extension of the budget defence session would affect the earlier date scheduled by the National Assembly to pass the 2017 budget revealing that the National Assembly has set the second week of March as the new target to pass the budget.
“Plenary has been suspended till next week to allow the committees to complete the budget defence. From the meeting we had on Tuesday, it shows that a number of ministers and chief executives of MDAs have not come to make their budget defence and we are going to give them today and tomorrow to do that,” he said.
“Any minister or head of agency that does not do that by Friday, we are not going to keep this open and hold the country to ransom because of a few people. We have already lost a week because we should have finished this by end of last week and start receiving reports.
“This is a final warning to all those required to ensure that unfailingly by today or tomorrow, they should appear before the committees. After that, the committees are allowed to do as they wish on their budgets.
“Those who are meant to re-submit certain corrections should do that by the end of Friday. It is our hope that by next week, all reports should have been submitted to the Appropriation Committee and for them to start receiving the reports for those that have completed their work. It is very important that this is done.
“The leadership will also be meeting with the Acting President this evening (yesterday) to try and iron out these issues. This is because we are determined that we must pass this budget within the second week of March. That is our target. So, we hope that this meeting will also help to speed up some of these discrepancies and clear them.”