The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, is to lead the 10-man National Assembly Committee to interface with another 5-man committee from the executive to harmonise all the grey areas pointed out by the Presidency on the 2016 budget. The committee is made up of five members from the senate, five members from the lower house as well as the five members from the executive is expected to finish its assignment on or before next Monday for the presidential assent expected to take place between Tuesday and Wednesday of the week.
The House of Representatives had held a closed door session to discuss the outcome of the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara at the presidential villa on Tuesday evening. Although Dogara was silent on what occurred at the meeting and the decisions reached, a source mentioned that that the House decided to set-up its five man committee to interface with the members from the executive to harmonize the budget.
It was gathered that Chairman of Appropriations Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had been in the storm over his alleged role in the controversy surrounding the padding and insertion of projects that were not initially contained in what the president is a member of the committee. Also included was the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Ibrahim Babangida and the Minority Whip, Binta Bello.
A source said that it was agreed that all the insertion in the budget that were not contained in the main budget document including constituency projects will be completely removed from the budget. He said that all the issues pointed out by the president will be removed by the committee, while the Lagos-Calabar railway project that had generated the controversy will be included with the alleged excess funds discovered in the Ministry of Transport budget which were converted to constituency projects. The lawmaker said that the committee is expected to finish the assignment of Friday this week, latest o Monday to ensure the ascension of the budget by Tuesday or Wednesday.
The source explained that the National Assembly decided to accommodateinclude the Lagos/Calabar railway project which was not in the budget for the sake of peace, adding that the rail project was discussed at the committee stage when it was brought. According to him, “we decided to let what came from the president be for the interest of the nation. What we have agreed is to allow corrections made by the Appropriations Committee and to remove insertions.” He further explained that the budget was returned to the National Assembly, it will cause constitutional crisis and will be started afresh which will take much time and the National Assembly will go out of time. Besides, he said,” There were things that were inserted by the Committee Chairmen that were not originally in the budget like road projects, they will all be removed. So we agreed to remove anything that was not originally provided for.”
Another lawmaker had also alleged that the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, had threatened to spill beans after receiving insults from his colleagues over his role on the controversy surrounding the budget. It was gathered that the Appropriations Committee had written to all the members to submit their constituency projects which the complied with and submitted accordingly.