Senate President, David Mark
By Dele Ogbodo
The Senate Tuesday restated its commitment to the quick passage of the 2013 budget proposal, currently undergoing scrutiny in the National Assembly.
The Appropriation Bill, which is receiving accelerated hearing, has scaled second reading in the upper chamber.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, however, stated that the lawmakers’ insistence on full implementation of the 2012 budget would not in any way derail the quick passage of the 2013 budget, adding that both budgets are mutually exclusive.
Speaking to THISDAY Tuesday, Abaribe, dispelled insinuations making the rounds that there might likely be delay in the passage of the 2013 budget presented by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this month.
He stated: “We have the whole of November and December. The Christmas break will be from December 23, so there is enough time, “adding that “there is no reason why all the debates and scrutiny would not have been completed before December ending.”
On the oil benchmark conflict between the Senate and the House of Representatives, Abaribe, while earlier briefing the media, had said that in cases of this nature, there would be a meeting point through a reconciliatory committee that would harmonise both benchmarks.
He said: “On the difference of $2 between the Senate and the House of Representatives benchmark prices, there would be a reconciliation. Now what happens really is that whenever there is difference between the House’s position and the Senate’s, we normally go for conference and the result of what we do in the conference committee which will now be the final position that we are going to present to Nigerians.”
Continuing, he said: “The Senate has also agreed on a benchmark of $78 per barrel 2.53 million barrels for 2013 2.61 and 2.65 for 2014 and 2015.
“We have also agreed on the average exchange rate of N160 per dollar, and let me emphasis that it is average which means that over time there may be some little fluctuations either way, but we are saying that on the average over this period of time, this is what it is supposed to be.”
On the face-off between the executive and the legislature which borders on inflammatory statements made by some aides of the President, he said: “We do not believe that President Goodluck Jonathan has sent anybody to cast aspersion against the Senate or the House of Representatives.
“Our believe actually is that those individuals speak for themselves and they are not doing the President any good, because our belief is that each arm of government is suppose to work harmoniously, to do everything for the interest of the common people who make up the citizenry in Nigeria and the question that we are suppose to be asking ourselves is what should be in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at this point in time?
“And for those who go all out to want to foment problems between the executive and the National Assembly, I do not think they are serving the President well.
“We think that we should really focus on things that are really important to Nigeria. Therefore we want the President to look inward and think whether those people are serving him or not.”