* We’ve Been Vindicated – Senate
Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate on Tuesday received President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘corrected’ 2016 Budget, and said that it would commence debates on the document on Wednesday.
“With the acceptance and adoption of the President’s letter, the Senate would go ahead to commence debates on the 2016 Budget,” the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said.
Following Buhari’s letter for the ‘corrected’ 2016 Budget, the Senate claimed that it has been vindicated.
It would be recalled that the drama surrounding the ‘missing 2016 Budget of Change’ reached a climax last Thursday when Saraki declared that another copy of the Budget was smuggled into the National Assembly by the Presidency.
The UNION also recalls that the Senate also maintained last Thursday that it would only consider the 2016 Budget version that was presented by Buhari on Tuesday, December 22, 2015.
By Saraki’s comment, the Senate is going back on its earlier declaration not to debate on the new Budget proposal.
The UNION reports that the new 2016 Budget proposal was contained in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
The Presidential letter, which body commenced with a fundamental error, was dated January 15, 2016.
Buhari particularly urged the National Assembly to work with the ‘corrected’ version, which he understood, had been submitted.
The letter subtly confirmed media reports that a second budget proposal was sent to the National Assembly.
The unedited letter read: “It will be recalled that on Tuesday 22nd December, 2016 I presented my 2016 Budget proposals to the joint sitting of the National Assembly. I submitted a draft bill accompanied by a schedule of details.
“At the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced we would have had to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule. That has been completed and I understand that the corrections have been made.
“The National Assembly should, therefore, have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.
“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 Budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures”.
Saraki, who spoke, after a two-hour closed-door session last Thursday, particularly accused the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, of printing the smuggled copies.
The Senate President, however, maintained that the Senate would only consider the 2016 Budget version that was presented by Buhari on Tuesday, December 22, 2015.
“We have received the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on investigations surrounding 2016 Appropriation Bill. Our finding is that Senator Ita Enang, the SSA to the President on NASS Matters, printed copies on the 2016 Appropriation Bill, and brought to the Senate.
“We have discovered that what he brought is different from the version presented by Mr. President (Buhari). We have resolved to consider only the version presented by Mr. President as soon as we receive soft copy of the original document from the executive,” Saraki declared.
Briefing the Senate correspondents, after the Plenary, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi, claimed that the Upper Legislative Chamber has been vindicated by Buhari’s letter for a new 2016 Budget proposal.