The Senate has given Acting President Yemi Osinbajo two weeks to submit the budgets of 31 government agencies, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to the National Assembly in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The Senate also resolved that the concerned agencies should stop further spending pending compliance.
This follows a motion raised by the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Na’Allah, during Wednesday’s plenary.
Many other lawmakers, including Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; Solomon Adeola, Dino Melaye; George Sekibo, Jibrin Barau, James Manager, and Barnabas Gemade, all condemned the affected agencies for showing total disregard for the law and spending huge sums without appropriation.
Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, FRA, provides that estimates of revenue and expenditure of 31 public corporations, agencies and government owned companies, listed in the Schedule to the Act, should submit their annual budgets to their supervisory ministers “not later than end of August of each financial year.”
Then, “The Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly,” Section 21(3) of the Act.
The affected government agencies also include, the Nigeria Deposit insurance Corporation; Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE; the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure; the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF; the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC; the National Clearing and Forwarding Agency; Nigerian Unity Line; Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA; Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC; the National Maritime Authority; Raw Material Research and Development Council; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA and the National Sugar Development Council.
Others are the Nigerian Postal Service; Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN; Nigerian Mining Corporation; Nigeria Re-insurance; Nigerdock Nigeria PLC; Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC; National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria; and the Nigeria Re-insurance Corporation.
Also in the list are: Nigerian Telecommunication; National Automotive Council; Nigerian Tourism Development; National Communication Commission, NCC; National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control, NAFDAC; Nigerian Customs Service; FIRS; and Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Online newspaper Premium Times reports that some of these bodies, particularly the NCC and the FIRS, presented their 2016budgets to the National Assembly well after the passage of the 2016 national budget.
“As at November 2016, the FIRS budget for that year was still under consideration at the National Assembly, six months after the 2016 Appropriations was signed into law by the President,” Premium Times said.
Deputy Senate leader, Na’Allah pointed out that by law, the budgets of the affected agencies ought to have been presented alongside the 2017 budget presented last December by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that the non-submission of the budget in line with the FRA amounted to abuse of law, adding that the Senate will support the anti-corruption campaign by ensuring an end to impunity and abuse of laid down rules by people in power.
Lagos State lawmaker Sololmon Adeola, noted that the development has lingered over the years, adding that the combined budget of the agencies was bigger than the national budget.
“We are talking about N10 trillion,” he said.
Also adding to the debate, Barau Jibrin said: “It is an aberration. I don’t know where this can be condoned. Money running into trillions can be spent without being budgeted for year in year out.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, while ruling on the issue explained that it was only the President who has the authority to write the National Assembly on appropriation matters.
Hence, Acting President Osinbajo should within two weeks receive the budgets of the affected agencies and lay same before the Senate.
Chairman of the Senate committee on Rules and Business, Baba Garbai, told journalists that the recent development would “in no way” stop the 2017 budget from being assented to by the acting President.