By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The senate yesterday accused the heads of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of frustrating the quick passage of the 2018 budget of N8.6trillion naira.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, also gave a fresh one week deadline to the MDAs, threatening that by Thursday next week, the senate will treat the budget of the defaulting MDAs as submitted by President Mohammadu Buhari, without any recourse to their respective heads.
According to him, “The consensus is that we give these agencies maximum of end of next week. Anything that has not come by then, the committee should complete their exercise and work on what they have.”
He cautioned against passing the 2018 budget without input from MDAs, saying “If we now proceed without the MDAs being present and the committee decides to do their work, when the budget is now passed, we are back to the problem of where it will be said the inputs of the agencies were not taken into consideration”.
This was sequel to the explanation by the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sunny Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi), who brief the senate on the state of the 2018 budget and the level of success already made in the budget defence by the MDAs.
Ogbuoji said some of the heads of MDAs have not been forthcoming in defending their budget, adding that they have other things they consider more important, including traveling abroad.
He said there are others who have not submitted their budget details at all, adding that most of them who were directed to go back and amend the works on their budget, failed to return to submit their budget documents.
Recall that the Senate had on February 14 issued a one-week ultimatum to 63 government agencies who are yet to submit details of their 2018 budget proposals.
Despite the expiration of the ultimatum, Ogbuoji said most heads of agencies have refused to interface with the Senate committees for consideration of the proposals.
While urging the MDAs to yield to the Senate’s appeal, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, will communicate to the heads of defaulting agencies on the need to discharge their roles in the budget process.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in his remarks expressed displeasure over the continued delay of the budget since it was submitted by the executive, saying “It is not right for the MDAs and the ministers to hold the country down. It has come to a stage where we have to consider taking what has already been presented to the president from those MDAs, instead of waiting for them forever.”
In his remarks, Senator Philip Aduda (FCT-PDP) suggested that the senate gives marching order to the MDAs, saying “The implication is that these ministries are holding the country to ransom.”