By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
A former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, has accused the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, of frustrating moves by the Senate to discuss the 2019 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last December.
Ndume (Borno South), who spoke with newsmen after plenary Wednesday, declared that the delay by the Senate to commence debate on the general principles of the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget proposals five weeks after presentation by President Buhari is caused by the leadership of the Senate headed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators.
He stated that as far as federal lawmakers belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are concerned, the budget proposals can be attended to within a week and passed but the Senate headed by lawmakers on the platform of the PDP seems not to be interested in the consideration of the budget proposals for now.
“Though federal lawmakers on the platform of APC are more in number than their counterparts in PDP but since it is the PDP lawmakers controlling the leadership of both chambers, the speed at which any executive bill, particularly the 2019 Appropriation Bill before us now will take lies with them.
“Those of us in the APC in both chambers have the passion and the will to effect expeditious consideration and passage of the 2019 budget proposals but the required speed for that lies with the leadership, topmost of whom are PDP members,” he said.
When reminded that the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North), who should have moved for the commencement of debate on the general principles of the budget or his deputy, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah ( Kebbi South), were not around on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said the required move and speed for such legislative exercise lie with the two presiding officers and principal officers.
He however commended the House of Representatives for kick starting debate on the general principles of the budget Wednesday, which he said will propel such legislative business in the Senate very soon.
According to him, the required expeditious consideration that should be given the 2019 Appropriation Bill should be extended to the expected minimum wage bill.
Nigerian workers, Ndume said, deserve living and not just minimum wage, a view he feels many of the other federal legislators share.
Asked to rate the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari and his PDP counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, in the coming presidential poll, he declared that in the North-east where Atiku comes from, Buhari will win 95 per cent of whatever votes cast during the poll.
He said: “The difference is clear between the two of them as far as popularity and acceptability are concerned going by crowds attending their rallies.
“Buhari has already won the election going by the mammoth crowd being pulled by him even in North-east more than Atiku. Besides, to us in the North-east, PDP is poisonous which cannot be embraced in anyway by the teeming populace.”