Debate on the general principles of 2017 Appropriation Bill ended on a good note; the legislation enjoyed contributions from almost all the Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that to its ultimate progress to the next legislative stage. The Bill scaled through second reading after a three day consecutive debate on the floor of the Red Chamber. Unarguably, the plenary session of Thursday, January 26, 2017 presided over by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was quite unique with the timely passage of this year’s Appropriation Bill for Second Reading.
The Third Day of debate on the 2017 Annual Estimates saw more than twenty Senators making submission on the Money Bill. Some of the law-makers that lent their voices to the all-important legislation include; Sen. Babakaka Garbai, Sen. Mohammed Hassan, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Sen. Ibrahim Gobir, Sen. Binta Masi Garba and Sen. George Akume; who called for a Federal Government’s Mini Intervention to ameliorate the plight of affected victims of farmers and herdsmen crisis in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States.
Other Senators that contributed to the debate were Sen. Abdullahi Gumel; who commended President Buhari for presenting the Budget of Recovery and Growth which encourages bumper harvest of agricultural produce across the country. He urged government to establish Commodity Pricing and Marketing Board to supervise and market the farm produce within and outside the country.
Speaking in the same vein, Sen. Shaaba Lafiagi said the 2017 Budget of recovery and growth comes with great hope of recovery and development of the nation’s ailing economy. He commended the government for the policy of Anchor Borrower Scheme for Nigerian farmers to boost production and create employment as well as generate wealth.
Accordingly, the following Senators also made their submission on the debate; Sen. Ben Murray Bruce, Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Sen. Yusuf A. Yusuf, Sen. Rilwan Akanbi, Sen. Mustapha Bukar, Sen. Isa Hamma Misau, Sen. Dada Gbolahan, Sen. Abdullahi Danbaba, Sen. Adeleke Isiaka, Sen. Jeremiah Useni, Sen. Abubakar Sani Danladi, Sen. Ahmed Ogembe, Sen. Obinna Ogba, Sen. Murtala Nyako, Sen. Andy Uba and Sen. Sulaiman Nazif; who asserted that 75% of National Assembly members lose election due to poor budgeting and oversight which often does not impact positively in the lives of Nigerians. He called on the Senate to extremely work hard to ensure that this government’s Social Intervention Programme achieve the desired result in 2017. He suggested that the budget be subjected to a public hearing that would allow for wider participation of Nigerians.
The debate climaxed with a voice vote on whether the Bill be read the second time or otherwise and response was in the affirmative; the Bill was read the second time and referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriation and other Sub-Committees to report in three weeks.
Nevertheless, the Senate President has disclosed that the Chamber is more concerned with the tackling of duplication of projects, more independent source of revenue generation, provision of social infrastructures across the country, increased allocation to the health sector and most importantly the Committee should conduct a two day Public Hearing on the 2017 Budget.
Meanwhile, the Senate has deliberated and passed a Motion titled “Irregularities in the award of contracts by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP)”, sponsored by Sen. Dino Melaye. Accordingly, the Chamber noted with serious concern the irregularities in the award of contracts for ten (10) and thirteen (13) projects for the construction and rehabilitation of Roads and Bridges in the first and second batch of Road and Bridge projects contained in the Ministry’s 2016 budget implementation; requested vide letters dated 7th and 15th November, 2016 respectively from the BPP for due process certificate to award contracts for ten and thirteen projects for the construction and rehabilitation under the 2016 Budget Implementation were made. The Motion sailed through with a single resolution below:
i) Direct the Senate Committee on Public Procurement to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter and report back in one week.
However, the Senate has adjourned plenary session to the 21st of February, 2017 to allow the Committee on Appropriation and other Sub-Committees of the Senate to engage the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the defence of their 2017 Budgets.