The Senate on Wednesday summoned the accounting officers of seven federal ministries, departments and agencies over their failure to defend their input in the N5.01tn loans proposed to fund the 2022 budget deficits.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, decried the non-appearance of the affected MDAs before the Senate Committee on Loans and Foreign Debts.
Lawan, while issuing the summons at the close of plenary, said if the MDAs failed to appear, the Senate would take appropriate and prompt actions against them.
He said the Senate would not condole any act of sabotage to the efforts of the Federal Government to secure the loans to fund infrastructure development that Nigeria desperately needed.
He said the National Assembly had approved the loan request, noting that there was need for justification of the inputs of the ministries in the request.
He said the ministries had been given one week to appear before the committee on loan and foreign debt.
He listed the ministries to include ministries of power, health, environment, women affairs, petroleum resources, water resources and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.
Lawan said, “There are ministries, departments and agencies of federal government that should have appeared before the Senate committee on Local and Foreign Loans to defend the debt request by the executive arm of government.
“These MDAs failed to appear. The Senate considers this attitude as a sabotage to the effort of the Federal Government to secure the loans and fund the infrastructure development that this country desperately needs.
“Already, the National Assembly has approved the loan requests but there is need for clarifications.
“We are giving them just one week to appear before the committee on lean and foreign debts and if they fail to appear, we’ll take appropriate and prompt action because this Senate will not condone any sabotage to the effort of this administration.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned plenary to Nov 9, after it passed the 2022 Appropriation Bill for second reading.
Lawan, who announced the adjournment, said it was designed to enable various committees to conduct budget defence for the MDAs.
Lawn stated that the budget defence by the MDAs would begin on October 18.
He urged the committees to be detailed in the scrutiny of the budgets of MDAs.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate President reconstituted the leadership of some committees of the red chamber.
He said Sahabi Ya’u would chair the Committee on National Population and National Identity.
Others are Tokunbo Abiru – (Chairman, Senate Committee on Industry); Saidu Alkali, (Chairman, Trade and Investments); Kabir Barkiya (Chairman, Inter-parliamentary Affairs).
He also named Seriake Dickson as vice-chairman, interior; member committee on appropriations;
Biodun Olujimi (member, appropriations); Tolu Odebiyi (vice-chairman, marine transport); and Lekan Mustapha (vice-chairman, INEC).
The rest are Jarigbe Jarigbe (vice-chairman, foreign affairs); Moses Cleopas (vice-chairman, national planning and internal affairs); Ibezim Frank (vice-chairman, industry); Lora Dadut (vice-chairman, culture and tourism) and Degi Biobarakuma (member, appropriations).
Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday passed for second reading the 2022 Appropriation Bill and adjourned plenary till November 9 for budget defence.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, announced the adjournment during plenary.
He referred the Appropriation Bill to the Committee on Appropriation to report back in four weeks.
The development followed the conclusion of the general principles of the budget with each senator baring their minds on the contents of the fiscal document.
The senators who took turns to deliberate on the bill include Senator Abba Moro (PDP-Benue).
Moro said what was needed was for the government to change its strategy towards budget presentation and budget implementation.
He said, “We must change our implementation strategy and our budget system so that Nigerians can benefit from this annual ritual called budget.
“We must try as possible block the leakages in our economy so that we can conserve funds for the development of our infrastructure.”
On his part, Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said with the current economic trend where there was low productivity and growth, government must consolidate on transportation network.
Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC- Kogi) urged government to invest more funds for the completion of Iron and Steel Complex which was capable of providing 68, 000 engineers and technicians.
Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP-Rivers) said, “I like to debunk an argument that Nigeria is under-borrowed. Nigeria is not under-borrowed.”
The Senate President urged the lawmakers to accord the 2022 Appropriation Bill the same devotion, commitment and dedication it did the 2020 and 2021 Appropriation Act.