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Senators, Reps Queried Over Illegal Budget Passage



The chairmen of some committees of the National Assembly have been queried over the illegal passage of budgets for some ministries, departments and agencies(MDAs) of the Federal Government.

This allegation by President Muhammadu Buhari was confirmed by the House of Representatives committee on public accounts.

It would be recalled that President Buhari, at his presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on October 7, 2022, slammed committees of the parliament for bypassing him to approve budgets for some government parastatals without his approval.

At the presentation, he said “distinguished senators, honourable members, you may recall that we earlier integrated the budget of government-owned enterprises into the FGN’s 2019 budget submission. This has helped to enhance the comprehensiveness and transparency of the FGN budget. It has, however, come to my attention that government-owned enterprises (GOEs) liaise directly with relevant NASS committees to have their budget passed and issued to them directly.

“I would like to implore the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure that the budget I lay here today, which includes those of the GOEs, be returned to the Presidency when passed. The current practice where some committees of the National Assembly purport to pass budgets for GOEs, which are at variance with the budgets sanctioned by me, and communicate such directly to the MDAs, is against the rules and needs to stop,” President Buhari added.

However, the guilty chairmen were said to have been summoned earlier this year by the public accounts committee, but they would from this week onwards begin to appear before the panel for a probe. understands that the public accounts committee wrote to the secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, and the clerk to the National Assembly, Amos Ojo, after its discovery to ascertain if President Buhari actually transmitted the MDAs’ budget to the parliament or not.

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The President is however expected to transmit budgetary proposals of MDAs to the National Assembly, while the clerk in turn transmits passed budgets to the Presidency for implementation.

Meanwhile, in a Newspaper report, the Chairman of the committee on public accounts, Oluwole Oke, was reported to have said chairmen of the erring committees had been queried on why they passed the budgets illegally.

Oke, while speaking on when the erring committee chairmen were to come before the public account committee, said, “we are just resuming now. I am sure from next week, you will start seeing them appearing.”

“Before the President made that submission, we had written the secretary to the government of the federation, the clerk to the National Assembly to show us proof that these agencies’ budgets passed through the normal legislative processes. The Public Accounts Committee (of the House) raised the alarm.”

In his response to how thorough his committee would be with the probe of his fellow lawmakers, he noted that “the public accounts committee is a committee created by the constitution. Why wouldn’t we? We are accountable to Nigerians. If we were not going to be fair, do you think we would have raised the alarm or issued such a resolution?”.

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