Senate set March deadline for passage of 2017 budget

*Nigerian Senate chamber.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi
15 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The National Assembly aims to pass the 2017 budget by the end of March, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said.

Saraki said this on Tuesday after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said: “This month is our deadline to finish work on the budget and return it to the executive.”

Also present at the meeting was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

Buhari presented his record N7.298 trillion ($23.21 billion) budget to lawmakers in December.

The budget must be agreed by lawmakers before being passed back to the president and passed into law.

Heads of Ministries, Department and agencies of government have already appeared at the National Assembly to defend their budget.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday gave all standing committees one week to present and defend reports of the 2017 Budget of Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) under them before the Committee on Appropriation.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, announced the deadline to the committees at plenary and urged them to abide by the ultimatum to enable the appropriation committee to put finishing touches to the reports.

According to him, the senate is committed to passing the 2017 Budget before the end of March. President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly on Dec. 14, 2016.

Also, the senate has sent a seven-member delegation to pay a condolence visit on the family of late former governor of old Bendel, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia.

Members of the delegation, which would be led by the Chief Whip, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, are Sen. Stella Oduah (Anambra-PDP), Sen. Umaru Kurfi (Katsina-APC) and Sen. Gbolahan Dada (Ogun-APC).

Others are Sen. Barnabas Gemade (Benue-APC), Sen. Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa-APC) and Sen. Ben Bruce (Bayelsa-PDP).

Ekweremadu announced that senators from Edo, who wish to join the delegation, could do so.

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