Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
After a week of delay, the National Assembly is finally ready to pass the N6.077 trillion 2016 Budget today following the laying of the Budget report by the Appropriation committees of both chambers yesterday.
The long expected passage would be proceeded by the clause-by-clause consideration of the report during the Committee of the Whole..
A copy of the report laid by the Senate Appropriation Committee showed that there are no significant differences in the budget estimates laid by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly on the 22nd of December last year and the one laid yesterday at both chambers.
The breakdown of the Budget reports received by the Senate and the House of Representatives from their respective Appropriation Committee, which also tallied with projections made in the document presented to the National Assembly by President Buhari in December last year, were the total budget profile of N6.077 trillion and N351.3 billion for statutory transfers.
Others are: N1,475,320,000,000 for debt service, N2,648,600,000,000 for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure, N1,845,540,000,000 inclusive of N157,150,000,000 for borrowing andN1.8 trillion for capital expenditure as against N557 billion it was in 2015.
The Upper Chamber later adjourned Plenary to honour a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Musa Baba Onwana representing Nasarawa/Toto Federal Constituency of Nasarawa State, who died last week without a word on the fate of the report even though the House of Representatives was categorical about passing the Budget document today.
It would be recalled that the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had, last week, promised Nigerians that the Budget would be passed this week before being transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
Also, the Senate received the report of the National Assembly Conference Committee on 2016, 2017 and 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper from Senator John Enoh, who laid it on the floor.
According to the law, the adoption and approval of the MTEF and FSP should be done to give way for the passage of the appropriation bill.
But before the Senate suspended its Plenary on Tuesday, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, laid the audit report from the Auditor-General of the Federation, which was released to the public last Monday.
The weighty report, which was submitted to the National Assembly by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel UKura, indicted several ministries, departments and agencies including the National Assembly management.
The report also claimed that more than N3.3 trillion was misappropriated by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the National Assembly.
In his reaction, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, assured that the Senate will investigate every bit of the audit report.
Abdullahi told reporters in Abuja that consideration of the audit report is part of the statutory function of the parliament.
He said that the exposures in the audit report are queries raised by the Auditor-General, which cannot be conclusively classified as fraudulent acts until proven by investigation.
He added that the queries raised in the report by the Auditor General are not necessarily indictment.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Account, Senator Andy Uba, said that he would dig into the report, invite those queried to ask for clarification before coming to conclusion.
He said that the 8th Senate had elected to make the difference by painstakingly considering the report to establish the veracity of the report.