Lawan, Gbajabiamila say lawmakers will monitor military equipment spendings closely
By Egena Sunday Ode
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the supplementary budget that will that will make provisions for purchasing new equipment to fight insecurity as well as COVID-19 vaccinations.
The lawmakers were, however, emphatic that the National Assembly would monitor the spendings, especially on the purchase of military equipment to know what goes for what rather than just throw money at the requests.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the purpose of the meeting, Lawan said: “You know, is one government where the executive abs legislature are working together and we have come to meet with Mr. President, to discuss issues of serious national concern. And one of those issues is the issue of supplementary budget.
“Both executive and legislative arms believe that we should have supplementary budget to provide for funding of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, as well as the security, providing more resources and platforms to our security agencies.
“And today, I’m sure in Nigeria, there are no more grave issues, than COVID-19 and security situation in the country. And I want to take this opportunity to say that the security situation is gradually improving. And I’m sure that when we will give more resources to our security agencies we will see an even faster recovery of our situation.
“As for the COVID, I believe that our country, Nigeria should have some resources for our scientists to collaborate with other scientists from across the globe, to also have our own vaccine. Because we can’t rely on what other countries are doing now, every nation to itself, that’s what is happening.
“The US is not allowing vaccines to go out of US. EU is not allowing, AstraZeneca vaccine produced in UK to be sent out of EU. India is not allowing AstraZeneca vaccine they produced to be exported out. So where do we go from here? We will have to fall back on our own capacities and abilities. And we have great scientists in this country. We have many Nigerians outside Nigeria, who are also helping developing the vaccines in other countries. So why don’t you bring them home? Why don’t you put some resources so they will also produce ours locally here and take care of our population, and the later other African countries especially our neighbours.
“So I believe that we had a very good discussions and interaction with Mr. President along those lines.”
On the kind of intervention Nigerians should expect from National Assembly to tackle security challenges, the Senate President said: “Of course, approval of funds for the purchase of platforms, weapons and equipment are essential and we have already approved so much. And that’s why we’re expecting our Tucsons to be here soon. We’re expecting some APCs from Jordan. We’re expecting some APCs from China. And we believe that we’ve not had enough, we still need to approve more resources for the purchase of weapons for our armed forces, because this is the number one priority of government or any government really, to secure the people, and of course later the welfare.
“So we believe that we will be doing the right thing, if there is a request through supplementary appropriation bill from the presidency or executive arm of government, and then we approve. Of course, we have to have clear cut definition of how much is going for what, we’re not going to just give approval like that for a general thing. We want to see how the funds will be utilised. But it is mandatory that we provide more resources for our armed forces, and they’re doing well.”
On how soon Nigerians should expect the passing of some bills critical to the economy, like the PIB, Ahmed said: “Well, thank God, the two committees of the National Assembly, the joint committee in the Senate and the special adhoc committee are doing very well, they have been working very hard, they are working jointly, both the Senate and House.
“At the moment, I think they are about to start writing the report, which they will lay before the two chambers of the National Assembly sometimes in April, probably by the middle of next month, April. And it is our determination and plan and design that we will be able to pass the PIB by the end of April, by the grace of God or latest should anything untoward happens before the middle of May. But we are determined to pass this PIB by the end of April.
Also speaking on the PIB, Gbajabiamila assured that the commitment made to Nigerians will be kept but the Easter and Ramadan might affect the date.
He said: “On the PIB, the Senate President has covered the ground or covered the field like we say. We made a commitment to the Nigerian people and that commitment is April, end of April.
But let me just add that, you know, give or take two three weeks, like he said, only because at the time the commitment was made, we didn’t take into cognizance the fact of Easter break and Ramadan is coming up as well.
“We’re still shooting for, going for end of April. But we’re not going to straitjacket ourselves into a particular date, when I say end of April, we are talking thereabout, it maybe a week after maybe two weeks after at most, we will do our best.”
On whether the committee recommended more spending on security, Gbajabiamila said: “I don’t know what the recommendation is going be because I don’t want to preempt the committee. I may lead the committee or head the committee, but there’s about 40 of us, and we’re going to have consultants far and wide. So I will not preempt.
Obviously if money is an issue or if funding is an issue which we all believe is an issue that probably will form part of the recommendations. But the recommendations may be far reaching beyond throwing money at a problem.”