The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges has begun investigation of claims that the 2016 budget is missing from the chamber.This was disclosed to reporters by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, after Wednesday’s legislative proceedings in the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
While addressing reporters, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, also described as ‘untrue’, the claim that the budget was missing.
A federal lawmaker, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, earlier at plenary, raised a point of order demanding that the Senate should look into media reports on the whereabouts of the 2016 budget.
After his observation, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, gave the assurance that the budget would be distributed to the lawmakers at the upper chamber on Thursday ahead of the debate on the financial plan on Tuesday, January 19.
While confusion edges the whereabouts of the 2016 budget in the Senate, the clerk of the lower chamber displayed the budget on the floor.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, also maintained that the budget was not removed from the House.
On Tuesday, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, said that there was no truth to insinuations that the 2016 budget document is missing.
He said that the claims may have been inspired by the initial insufficiency of the copies of the budget available to all the lawmakers.
“As far as I am concerned, that story does not hold water. We were expecting copies to be printed and sent to the National Assembly but there was a bit of delay.
“As at yesterday, I can confirm to you that the Appropriation Committee in the House received a lot of copies of the budget. By the time the Clerk counted it today, it was not sufficient to go round members.
“I spoke with the Minister of Planning earlier today [Tuesday] and he assured me that before the end of today he will deliver the remaining copies.
“For the soft copy I also reminded him and he sent it to me and I handed it over to the House,” he explained.
Honourable Jibrin said the rumour of missing budget may have been triggered by the delay in the production of more copies of the budget.
“You should realise that we have a new government in place and I think that there is little issue of communication gap and they are trying to get themselves settled. We should be able to excuse them and support the President wherever there is a bit of limitation from his own side,” he told Channels Television’s correspondent, Charles Eruka.
The 2016 national financial plan was presented before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Becoming the first Nigerian President to personally carry out this task in recent years, Buhari explained that the 6.07 trillion Naira budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable as well as reiterated that Nigeria remains committed to diversification to build and reflate the economy.