Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North), has condemned the closed door session method being adopted by some of the Standing Committees in the Senate to carry out 2020 budget defence sessions with heads of the various government agencies.
However, the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Dayo Adeyeye said that the media would constitute a distraction during the budget defence.
He said, “The budget defence will not be done in the direct presence of the media. It will constitute a distraction when sensitive issues are being discussed. Serious issues cannot be discussed openly like that. Like the nitty gritty of the budget cannot be discussed in the open.
“When President Buhari was preparing the budget, the media was not involved. It was after the budget was ready that he read it at the joint session of the National Assembly.
“So, it is when the budget defence is concluded that the media can be briefed on the account.”
Senator Barau, who fielded questions from journalists on the issue yesterday disagreed, saying budget defence sessions were to be conducted in open session and not secret or closed door session. “Neither the Senate as a body nor the Appropriation Committee, coordinating the entire process, gave such a directive to any committee to hold budget defence session in secret with officials from the executive arm of government.
“I saw the story in the paper today and I’m not happy about it if actually the method was carried out by the affected committees.
“I know that such a trend will not continue from next week because Nigerians right from the budget defence sessions are supposed to know what and what the parliament and the executive are preparing or planning for them.
“The budget being discussed or defended by the affected agencies, are more or less, for Nigerians , the very reason why such assignment should be carried out in the open with attendance of journalists who are to report the details of what transpired at each of the sessions,” he said.
He however clarified that closed door session may be held by committees oversighting the Military, Police and other security agencies at certain stages for security reasons.
He said: “For security reasons, committees oversighting the various military outfits and Police, may at critical stage, hold closed door sessions but this is not expected from other committees especially on the issue of budget defence, being financial proposals meant for societal advancement.”