Senate President Ahmad Lawan Tuesday said that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are to appear before Committees of the Senate this month to defend their votes in the 2020 Budget.
He stated this at the presentation of the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari during a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Senate President said for timely passage of the budget, all MDAs should appear before the committees for the defence within this month.
Lawan said the national assembly committees were ready to receive ministers and other heads of agencies for the budget defence
“We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all budget defence activities in this year by all MDAs.
“Our committees will be expected to conclude their work on budget defence within October 2019.
“The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December leading to eventual passage before December 31.”
Lawan said that the presentation of the budget marked another day of exercising the constitutional obligations and mandates by both the legislature and the executive as provided for in Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution.
“This function being the first in the Ninth National Assembly, makes it even more significant as both the legislature and the executive have demonstrated readiness and commitment to work together in order to pass the 2020 budget in a good and desirable time.
“Clearly, this effort is to enable the Federal Government provide those laudable objectives of physical infrastructure and socio-economic services to our citizens,” he said.
He further said that the public and the private sectors needed a reliable and predictable budget cycle for the planning and execution of fiscal and financial policies and programmes.
“It is therefore, necessary that the present cycle is changed to January-December.
“In this regard, the national assembly and the executive must work together to ensure the realisation of the important objective.”
Lawan said that the National Assembly, after the receipt of the budget, would swing into action to start work immediately.
He said: “Both chambers of the national assembly have constituted their committees, we are therefore, ready to start processing the budget.
“The National Assembly will treat the 2020 budget with the same commitment or even more.
“In our effort to pass the budget, we will also be guided by the legislative requirement of a thorough scrutiny,” Lawan said.
The President of the Senate also promised that the National Assembly would fast track the amendment of the Public Procurement Act 2007 to ensure effective and efficient budget implementation.
He said that over the years, the public procurement process appeared to be encumbered by a lengthy bidding process and inadequate mobilization of funds among other limitations of the Act as amended.
“These tend to delay execution of government programmes and projects, or even stalled achieving the execution.
“The national assembly will fast track the amendment of the Act to ensure effective and efficient implementation of our budgets.”
He said that the assembly would ensure that the Federal Government was better enabled to provide enhanced security for protection of lives and property of Nigerians.
“We will also ensure an improved and revitalised economy that is all inclusive; able to create and sustain employment opportunities for our teeming youths; taking Nigerians out of poverty to prosperity and sustainable development.
“The budget estimates would remain what they are, estimates, until we are able to generate and receive the necessary revenues to fund and foot the bills.”
He assured Buhari of the readiness of the Assembly to partner with the administration to achieve all the goals and targets of taking Nigeria to the `Next Level` of development and prosperity.
Presidency Finally Reacts To Sowore’s Rearrest By DSS
The Presidency has finally reacted to the maltreatment of Omoyele Sowore, the convener of RevolutionNow Movement by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The presidency on Sunday justified the treatment of Omoyele Sowore by the State Security Service (SSS)
The Presidency posited that Omoyele Sowore, is a person of interest to the Department of State Service (DSS) and not ordinary human rights activist.
Recall that despite the court order, he was rearrested at the court premises in Abuja last week by the service, an action that has drawn widespread condemnation.
But reacting to the rearrest, the Presidency in a statement issued in Abuja by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), reiterated its accusation that Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.
It said no government will allow anyone to destabilise the country.
The statement read: “The Presidency notes some of the insinuations in the media about the arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) of the agitator, Omoyele Sowore.
“The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.
“However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS.
“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.
“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.
“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, ‘Days of Rage,’ with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.
“No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.
“Mr Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.
“He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran and lost as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.
“Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.
“To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.
“Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.
“Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.
“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.
“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.
“This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.”
JUST IN: US Department Of State Condemns Sowore’s Arrest
The United States Department of State has condemned the rearrest of convener of RevolutionNow protest and journalist, Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday barely 24 hours after he was released on bail after four months in the detention of Department of State Services.
Sowore was first arrested on August 3, 2019 by the DSS for calling on Nigerians to pour out to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand a better country from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a post on Twitter on Sunday, the State Department tweeting @StateDRL, said, “We are deeply concerned that #Sowore has been re-detained in #Nigeria shortly after a court ordered he be released on bail.
“Respect for rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of #democracy.”
The US State Department’s position follows similar condemnation by top American lawmakers like Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, who both called for the respect of Sowore’s rights and his immediate release.
We are deeply concerned that #Sowore has been re-detained in #Nigeria, shortly after a court ordered he be released on bail. Respect for rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of #democracy.
— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) December 7, 2019
Presidency: Buhari Is Ready To Restructure Nigeria But…
The Presidency in his reaction to the agitations on restructuring by Nigerians has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is ready to restructure the country but the issue is that he does not have the constitutional power to do so, adding that only the National Assembly does.
This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu at a media parley with House of Representatives correspondents.
Garba Shehu urged proponents of restructuring to take their agitation for restructuring to the national assembly as the Buhari-led administration is committed to the promise which is contained in APC manifesto.
He said: “We in the APC are committed to restructuring. Read the manifesto of the APC. It is stated there and so, we are not running away from it. President Buhari is ready to restructure the country.
“The problem we have with a lot of the proponents of restructuring is that they are looking for the fastest way to that restructuring. They don’t want to use the parliament. They want to use extra constitutional bodies and that is untidy. If you are a democrat, you abide by the processes.
“The parliament is the institution of government working with the executive and the judiciary. For you to say no you want to do a congress at Yaba Market Square and debate; do you want to cause a fight.
“We must be organised and follow due process. If you have a case on restructuring, come to the parliament. In any case, the Senate President has announced that this 9th Parliament will start constitutional amendment in January. So, bring your issue. These are intelligent people voted for by the people.
“Those who shout restructuring saying they want a parallel body to-do that, we have said to them that they are wrong. The sovereignty of the people resides with the parliament and so, if you want to restructure the country, come to the parliament.
“If you don’t have confidence in the parliamentarians you have voted for, wait for four years and vote them out and choose another set of people. But you cannot circumvent the role of the parliament in a democracy and it is key to whatever restructuring you want,” he said.
While reacting on the controversial social media bill, the Presidential spokesperson insisted that the proposed death penalty is not the only thing contained in the bill.
Garba Shehu disclosed that there is need to curb fake news as it can lead to the death of other Nigerians which is not acceptable.
He said: “It is your responsibility as the media to help the Nigerian government on the issue of hate speech before the parliament. The Minister of Information, who speaks for the Nigerian government, has spoken of the necessity of a law to govern social media.
“I am being careful on what he wants to do because I think there are parallel processes going on. I also blame the media for creating unnecessary controversy. If you look at the law being discussed, the media has focused more on the death penalty for fake news.
“You have a responsibility of studying that bill. Only a few days ago, the American Ambassador met the sponsor of that bill and at the end, he said Nigerians should have a rethink. It is your duty to reap it open and tell Nigerians what it contained. The bill is not all about death penalty or free speech,” he said.
He also said, “I think we have a problem that Nigerians have to address. Nobody is saying that President Buhari or the parliament should impose a law against the press. I am happy that they will hold public hearing on this and if you have any objection to some of the elements, come forward and tell parliament that you have objection. This country needs a law that will regulate social media and attack fake news.”
On claims of the current parliament being a rubber stamp legislature, Garba Shehu said;
“Anybody who is thinking that because the parliament and the executive has worked together on the finance bill and the budget within record time, so we are dealing with a rubber stamp parliament, such a person better look back and see what happened in the past.”