4 February 2014

Nigeria: Senate Concludes Budget Debate Today

The Senate would conclude debate on the 2014 budget today and commit it to committees where ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will defend their proposals and performance of previous budget.

The senators would likely begin the screening of the 12 ministerial nominees sent to it week by President Goodluck Jonathan tomorrow.

Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe made this known to LEADERSHIP last night.

He spoke against reports which suggest that Senate may have suspended the screening of the president's nominees.

"The Senate could not start the screening of ministerial nominees because of the work on the 2014 budget, which requires a painstaking effort as do ministerial screening.

"Do not forget that every senator who indicated interest to contribute to the budget debate must be given chance to have the floor. There is no way, the two can be combined, that was why we needed to concentrate and conclude the budget debate before screening of the ministerial nominees", he said.

Abaribe however informed that all things being equal, the budget defence would be concluded Tuesday (today) for the screening to commence hopefully on Wednesday (tomorrow).

"Definitely, all is set to start the screening of the nominees this week, very hopefully by Wednesday Senate will hit the ground running for the open screening of the nominees", he added.

The spokesman nonetheless described as erroneous that Senate has suspended screening of the ministerial nominees adding that nothing calls for its suspension.

"At the stage we are and as a matter of procedure, you cannot suspend action on the issue except if the president decides to withdraw the lists, after all they are his nominees. Ours is to screen and confirm or reject, and that can only be done when it is first introduced on the floor.

"For now, we have no issues with the communication from Mr President. What is left is to work on the communication and that we are likely to start on Wednesday, by which time the Senate may have concluded debate on the Budget bill", he stated.

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