Barely two days after the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, criticised the handling of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war, the Senate, has given a two-week ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari, to submit, without fail, the 2017 budgets of 38 statutory agencies.
Similarly, the Senate has ordered the 38 agencies to stop further expenditures of capital budgets, pending the submission of their respective 2017 budgets.
Buhari is currently in London for the past nine days on a medical vacation.
The position of the Senate was reached, following the adoption of a motion tagged, “Non-submission of 2017 budget by public corporations in violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah.
On Tuesday, The Red Chamber expressed shock that despite the fact that the President Buhari-led Federal government continues to lay claim to waging a war against corruption, agencies of the same government keep breaching the basic rules of corruption.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while speaking on the issue, said the matter in question is not only an infraction of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, but the constitution.
He quoted extensively, certain portions of the constitution which prohibit the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, except in a manner, prescribed by the National Assembly.
He said: “We must begin to show that we operate by the laws we make. We cannot be going back and forth. It is our responsibility to compel the agencies concerned to submit their budgets for approval.
“We must give agencies an ultimatum to agencies to submit their budgets for appropriation by the National Assembly.”
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Na’Allah in his earlier argument, said: “Non-compliance to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act constitutes abuse of power and economic sabotage, aimed at frustrating the current economic measures being taken by the present administration to address economic recession”.
Senator George Sekibo, in his remarks, said one of the functions of the executive, is to ensure that the laws are obeyed. He said the failure of agencies to submit their budgets for appropriation is a gross misconduct. “They are spending public money,” he said.
As part of measures to guide against future abuses, the Senate also resolved to urgently amend the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to penalise infractions.
Similarly, Saraki has told heads of the various standing committees to discontinue work on already submitted budgets of the affected agencies. He said until President Buhari submits the budgets in accordance with Section 21 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, any exercise by the committees will be voided.