Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) criticized the National Assembly for hastily approving the N27.5 trillion Appropriation Bill presented by President Bola Tinubu without providing copies of the document. Ningi, a former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007, expressed his concern about the unusual situation where lawmakers debated the general principles of the Appropriation Bill without having access to the budget itself.
In an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, Ningi highlighted the absence of sectoral allocation or detailed information about the 2024 budget before the National Assembly. He described the current scenario as unprecedented, stating that the National Assembly should not be debating a presidential budget speech without the accompanying budget document. Ningi emphasized the critical role of the National Assembly in appropriation matters and expressed disappointment at the apparent neglect of this responsibility.
While the Senate passed the 2024 Appropriation Bill for a second reading on Friday, Ningi observed that there was limited debate on the 43-paragraph speech presented by President Tinubu. The lead debate focused on basic assumptions and parameters, lacking sectoral details or comprehensive information about the budget.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Olamilekan Adeola, APC, Ogun West, is set to conduct an interactive session with ministries, departments, agencies, stakeholders, and civil society organizations on the 2024 Appropriation Bill. Adeola aims to establish a template for the efficient consideration and passage of the bill, maintaining the established January-December budget cycle and ensuring a meaningful impact in the coming year.
In a related development, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, advocated for increased citizen participation in the budget process to enhance democratic governance and improve public financial management.
Speaking at a citizens’ town hall on the 2024 Budget and Appropriation Process, organized by the House Committee on Appropriations and the Programmes Coordinating Unit of the Office of the Speaker in Abuja, Abbas highlighted the House’s commitment to fostering public engagement in the budgetary process.
He announced plans to review the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 to strengthen provisions related to access to information and public consultation throughout the budget cycle, explicitly defining and requiring public participation in the legislative process.
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