Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan, has said hasty attempts to implement the January–December budget calendar may result in more frictions between the executive and legislative arms of government.
He said that irrespective of the budget circle in place, what should be more paramount is the full implementation of the budget and the people getting the desired benefits on the long run.
Lawan, who was at the Presidential Villa with Senator Sola Adeyeye to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, on what he described as a “private visit”, said to return to the January to December calendar will depend on the collaborative effort between the executive and the legislature.
Recall that as a fallout of signing of the 2017 budget into law by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as the President, the Executive and the Legislature had looked at how feasible it would be to return the Federal Government to a January–December budget calendar, starting from the 2018 budget.
The executive had made a commitment to submit 2018 budget to the National Assembly early enough so that it can be passed into law by October, to ensure timely and effective implementation of the budget.
In view of this, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning worked tirelessly to produce the 2018 budget, which was eventually approved by the Federal Executive Council on October 26th, 2017.
Lawan told State House Correspondents after meeting with President Buhari when asked if the budget could be passed by December 31st, that while that was the desire of all stakeholders, the full implementation of the budget ought to be the most important thing.
He said, “Well, it depends on how it goes. You know we are supposed to be working on the same page, working for the same people of Nigeria and we will like to see the National Assembly working in tandem with the executive arm of government.
“You know these things will be determined by what the budget looks like; the estimates presented to us, because naturally we always try to do a very thorough job, a very patriotic job, to ensure that the budget is implementable, to ensure that there is equity, there is fairness, justice in the distribution of projects across the country.
“We will like to see that done but we shouldn’t just do that at all costs, we should be looking at the benefits that could accrue from doing that and whether it is possible to just do it at once or maybe reduce the period in two phases or even more.
“The 2017 budget took effect from June this year, if it is possible for us to complete the implementation of the budget in six months from June, so be it but that also requires that we implement the budget properly because these are projects that are supposed to bring development, relief and succour to Nigerians, and if it is not possible we shouldn’t force it on ourselves that we must terminate it.
“Regardless of what happens, we should look at the potential consequences of completing it in December or whether we need to extend it a little bit more into March for example. But these are issues that when we engage between ourselves; the executive and the legislature, we will be able to sort them out for the benefit of Nigerians.”
Asked if he was satisfied with the level of implementation of the 2017 budget so far, he said, “We are still working to ensure that implementation of the 2017 budget continues, so far it hasn’t been implemented the way we thought it would.
“Remember that there are certain things that you don’t just get them to happen at once, some processes must take place before you finally have projects kicking off, so I believe between now and when the 2017 budget circle will be completed, much would have been done and achieved.”