Due to past indications of Senators indulgence in collection of bribes; either directly or indirectly, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has warned senators against taking bribes from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government when considering funding requests for the 2016 budget.
He vehemently gave the warning on Wednesday, 27 January as the two houses of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, gave the 2016 Appropriation Bill a second reading, thereby referring the budget proposal to their respective appropriation committees.
Mr. Saraki warned senate committees not to get involved in the “money for budgeting” deals with MDAs – a practice believed to have been rampant in the past.
Credible reports suggests that the budget passed the second reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 26 January, after a three-day debate that started last Wednesday. After four days of deliberation, the Senate reached a similar decision.
Addressing the committee at the end of the debate on Wednesday, 27 January, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, summarised the central points of the debates before putting the question on whether the bill should be read for the second time.
Responding to concerns expressed by opposition senators about the government’s plan to borrow over N2 trillion to fund the budget, Mr. Saraki assured them that judicious utilization of the money borrowed was more important. He also noted the economic diversification and crude oil benchmark, among other themes of the debate.
Mr. Saraki also ruled that the proposal be referred to committee on appropriations, after the bill was read the second time at the senate meeting and declared that Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, would start defending their respective budgets on Thursday, 28 January.
He charged the Senate Committee on Appropriations led by Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe State) to submit its report by February 24. He added that the success of the budget when passed would depend on the supervision of the legislators.
“The committees must therefore be empowered to carry out our oversight functions,” Mr. Saraki said.