Delays that usually characterised presentation, consideration and passage of appropriation bills on yearly basis, will be a thing of the past in the 9th National Assembly under my leadership said the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan ( APC Yobe North).
Senator Lawan who stated this Wednesday at the Head office of Blueprint Newspapers in Abuja along with 18 other serving senators as part of his campaign for the Presidency of the 9th Senate, said almost all the former governors elected for the 9th Senate are backing his aspiration.
This is as he insisted that in line with parliamentary practices globally, open and transparent model of election must be used for election of presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly in June this year.
Responding to question on way out of delays, yearly budgetary proposals used to encounter before passage, Lawan said required time frame for the entire process of budget presentation by the executive, consideration and passage by the legislature, would be worked out in solving the yearly problem.
He said: “It is rather sad that the budget process has not produced the kind of time outcome in this country. Let me remind you that our economy is largely dependent on public expenditure, and if the budget is not passed, Nigerians will complain of budget delay everywhere you go.
“That means the budget touches every life in this country. We have had discussions amongst ourselves in this group, and most of the Senators we have met on how to solve this problem of this budget process so that we can produce a budget document at the required time frame, and our conclusion are that we need to have a proper and timely engagement and consultations with the executive arm of government, so that we are able to have the budget proposal presented by Mr President in September or October of a year.
“We believe we should have maximum of three months to pass the budget and wait for Mr president to assent to it. I believe that we should tell ourselves the truth in the National Assembly that the budget is the most essential legislation, and the single most important document that we can produce, and make life better for Nigerians. So, why can’t we for example find a time frame, and say this time is only for processing the budget.
“For instance, if the budget is presented in September, why can’t we take the next four weeks from the day it was presented to do budget defence, no plenary until we are able to present something critical that requires our attention or intervention. No Senator or member of House of Representatives should travel out of the country without defending the budget. And we engage the presidency on the same thing, that no minister must travel outside the country without defending his or her budget.
“After that one month window is concluded, anyone who does not defend his budget should forget it. The National Assembly should be able to just work on what it thinks is right on the budget.
“I believe with this approach that will be worked out with the executive , the problem of yearly budget delays will be a thing of the past in the 9th National Assembly in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
On his aspiration, he stated that though, he was yet to meet Senators Ali Ndume and Danjuma Goje but virtually all the remaining Senators -elect on the platform of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and most of their counterparts from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been contacted and keyed into his leadership project.
The support base of his aspiration across the two party lines according to him, are most of the16 former governors backing it as senators – elect.
“I am still working the process of meeting with my brothers, Senators Nduma and Goje, but it is a work in progress.
“I can tell you, almost all the former governors elected as Senators for the 9th Senate, are in this project.
“They are the movers and shakers of this project. They work tirelessly, because they believe we can achieve the desired development- driven synergy between the legislature and the executive.
“We must achieve unity, they hold sway in their states, and they know how important it is to have a legislature, working in collaboration, in tandem with unity and cooperation with the executive arm of government, so almost all of them are on this project”, he said.
According to him, open ballot system being used globally for elections in the parliament is what majority of the federal lawmakers- elect are canvassing for and should be adopted .
“In 2007 and 2011 at the inauguration of the 6th and 7th Senate, that was the mode of election adopted where all elected Senators , answered their fathers’name and that is what is expected to be adopted “, he said.
Reechoing what Senator Lawan said on open balloting after the courtesy visit, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North) , said: “What majority of us are saying is that on that day, we want voting to be open, no secret balloting. It is as simple and plain as that, because every Assembly that comes dies at the end of its tenure, and when a new one comes in, the Assembly has a new life and right to adopt what it wants to do. Those of us coming on board the 9th senate want open voting.”
Other Senators in the entourage of Senator Lawan , were Ovie Omo- Agege ( Delta Central), Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (Lagos West), Jibrin Barau (Kano North), Ahmed Baba Kaita ( Katsina North) and Sani Musa (Niger East), Isa Jibrin (Kogi East), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa North West) etc.
In his remarks, the Publisher of Blueprint Newspapers, Alhaji Mohammed Idris cautioned the aspiring Senate President not to take Nigeria for granted if elected.
“The Blueprint as a media outfit will support your leadership if elected but also hold you accountable as it has been doing to all public office holders since 2011 when it came into existence”, he said .