Saraki apologizes over 2018 budget delay
  • Attributes delay to lack of synergy between executive and legislature

The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has apologized to Nigerians over the delay in the passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill presented on the floor of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2017.

The apology of the President of the Senate was coming at time the budget delay has thrown the government into budget crisis since the duration of the 2017 budget elapsed on March 31, 2018.

Saraki, in Abuja at the weekend, noted that the budget process has been in process but attributed the delay to lack of cooperation, absence of collaboration and consultation between the executive and the legislature.

The President of the Senate remarked that the problem will continue except these issues are resolved and the executive/legislature relations is reviewed.  It was his view that the problem has nothing to do with the individuals leading the National Assembly.

“You can change Speaker of the House of Representatives, change the Senate President, without engagement, changing the structure of relations, the problem will continue,” Saraki declared.

The President of the Senate recalled that heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were reluctant to honour invitations by the lawmakers to defend the budget allocations to their respective MDAs until the National Assembly leadership visited President Muhammadu Buhari to complain of the attitude of his appointees; which he said, delayed the passage of the 2018 budget.

Saraki admitted that after the appearance of the heads of MDAs, there were slight delay by the failure of the various standing committees to submit their reports for final deliberations on the budget proposal.

Accordingly, Saraki said, “On the committees delay, I can say I am sorry.”

He assured that the National Assembly will speed up activities to ensure that budget is passed without further delay.

Saraki also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari in about the past three years sent names of about 294 nominees to the Senate for confirmation on federal appointments, and the Senate confirmed 274 nominees and rejected 18.

The lifespan of the 2017 budget expired on march 31, thus, marking the beginning of the new budget year but three weeks after, the National Assembly are still holding on to the fiscal document.