Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday hinted that the integrity checks carried out on the two versions of the N6.08 trillion 2016 Budget made available to the National Assembly by the Presidency exposed the discrepancies in them.
This is even as the Senate Leader expressed confidence that the National Assembly will get the 2016 Budget passed into law latest by the end of February.
Ndume, who dropped the hint during a parley with journalists, maintained that there was nothing like disappearance of the 2016 Budget document from either the Senate or from the House of Representatives as reported in the media.
He insisted that it was just the discrepancies in figures that were discovered at the level of integrity checks.
“As I earlier stated, no budget is missing in the Senate because it is not even possible for a document laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by a sitting President to miss.
“What only happened and blew out of proportion by the opposition are slight differences observed in copies of the documents at the level of integrity checks.
“But what I can tell you now is that the Budget that was submitted originally, there were certain integrity check on it that made some changes in the quantity, but not in the total,” he said.
Ndume’s disclosure is coming at a time President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking to withdraw the controversial document through a written communication to that effect to the leadership of the National Assembly over the weekend.
The UNION reports that the content of Buhari’s letter is expected to be read on the floor of the Senate today (Tuesday).
Ndume described the call for Buhari’s impeachment proceedings over the Budget controversy as a bad joke from the opposition.
“If we are to consider the act of impunity committed at the Presidency during PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) 16 years rule, then Nigerians deserve to kill the Party and anything it represents,” he said.
When asked punishment that awaits the Presidency over the integrity checks failure of the Budget, Ndume said that the President did not submit a failed Budget, but a Budget that passed through integrity check of the Senate, showing some discrepancies that need to be corrected.
He, however, said that in spite of the controversy trailing the Budget document, the Senate and, by extension, the National Assembly, will get it passed into law latest by the end of February this year.
“We are targeting end of February to round off on the Budget. In fact, if not for this mix up. We are committed to turning out the Budget on time,” he said.
He added that the appearance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, before the Senate today over the dwindling fortune of the Naira in the international market will be conducted behind closed door.
According to him,such an appearance is so sensitive to be made open because the Senate will want the CBN Governor to be very frank on what can urgently be done by the Federal Government to rescue both the Naira and the economy from further fall.
“Honestly speaking, as a Nigerian, I’m worried about how things are in the country now, the same way the Senate is,” he added.