By Omololu Ogunmade and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, have appealed to their colleagues in both chambers to change their stance not to reconsider the 2016 budget, except a supplementary budget is sent to them by President Muhammadu Buhari.
They have equally described as unfounded the allegations levelled against them in the course of finalising work on the 2016 budget.
Both lawmakers had been accused of unilaterally allocating constituency projects worth billions of naira to their constituencies.
Abdulmumin was accused of allocating constituency projects of over N4 billion to Bebeji federal constituency of Kano State which he represents.
They were also accused of removing the N60 billion Calabar-Lagos rail project and allocating more funds to the Lagos-Kano rail project in the budget.
The purported tinkering with the budget by the appropriation committee chairmen has been blamed for Buhari’s reluctance to assent to the budget, resulting in an impasse with the National Assembly which had asked him to assent to the Appropriation Bill and present a supplementary budget that would address any areas of concern.
But in a joint statement issued yesterday, they said that they intend to respond to all allegations levelled against them at the appropriate time, adding however that what was more important was to resolve the budget impasse and get it assented to so that its implementation could take off in the interest of all Nigerians.
“For now, what we consider important is to resolve the impasse around the budget and get it assented to, so that it’s implementation can begin in the interest of Nigerians,” the lawmakers stated.
They said there had been a lot of misinformation, misrepresentation and innuendos about the roles played by the joint Committees on Appropriation in the course of passing the budget, adding: “However, we must put it on record that the details aggregated and transmitted to the executive are largely the inputs we received from the standing committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“Given the foregoing, and all factors considered, we hereby state that we have had enough controversy over the 2016 budget. What is needful right now is a resolution of the differences and to that end, we call on our colleagues in the National Assembly to accede to the request by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to have a second look at the details and make the necessary adjustments so that he can give his assent. This, in our opinion, should not go beyond this week.
“To the extent that there are already ongoing consultations, a debate about who is right or wrong is unhelpful in the circumstance; and in any case, does not advance the cause of our countrymen and women whose interest we have been elected to serve.”
The committee chairmen commended Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, House Speaker Yakubu Dogara and the entire members of the National Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council, the Minister of Budget and National Planning and the budget team for their cooperation, and assured Nigerians that they would do everything to protect and defend their interest, at all times.