The National Assembly again on Thursday failed to lay the report of the 2016 budget, saying it was still engaging in “data cleansing.”
On Wednesday, the Joint Committee of the Senate/House of Representatives on Appropriation had also failed to keep its promise to produce the report, a prerequisite for passing the N6.07trillon budget.
Jointly addressing journalists on the development after a plenary on Thursday, the spokesperson for the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, and his counterpart for the House, Abdulrazaq Namdas, said the document was not ready for submission because the committee members were still engaging in ‘data cleansing.’
The spokespersons addressed journalists, just at The PUNCH learnt on Thursday that the Senate had produced a booklet containing the paddling and errors in the budget.
They also said that the readiness of the budget next week depended on God and hope.
Abdullahi and his colleague, however, assured Nigerians that the budget would be laid and passed on Tuesday next week because the National Assembly would not pass a budget that would be full of errors.
Abdullahi said, “As far as we are concerned, we have not failed. What is happening is the seriousness with which we take the 2016 appropriation. It’s such that we cannot also afford to make errors that will become very costly to this nation.
“We have finished all the necessary work within the context of the various committees. But remember when you do the paperwork, you have to also get the people who will sit down and check; what we call data cleansing and integration.”
He added that the two appropriation committees (of both chambers) must integrate their reports, adding that the process was technical and tedious because the budget was a voluminous document.
Abdullahi added, “You will recall that we promised Nigerians that by today March 17, we will be able to pass the 2016 appropriation. Yesterday, (Wednesday) I also confirmed to you that today (Thursday), that same appropriation bill would be laid, barring any last minute technical hitches or otherwise.
“We are here to let you know that as of today, we are unable to lay the 2016 appropriation bill and thus we are hoping that by next week, the process will be completed. When I briefed you, I recalled you were asking if the passage would be completed by next week. And we said yes.
“When you lay the budget report, the next thing is for you to discuss it and get it passed. The two activities will be carried out next week God willing. And let me pre-empt you because I know you will say we have failed to keep to our promise.”
The senator said that the lawmakers would not rush the passage of budget in an attempt to keep the promise, adding that what they owed Nigerians was a budget that would be implementable.
He added, “It’s a budget that will help to create jobs and stimulate our economic rebirth. So, that is what we have seen as a key objective and I want to assure you that for those of you who know statistics, in everything you do, you must give freedom for a degree of error.
“We are still working on the figures and we hope by the grace of God that the budget will be ready next week.
“I am a Muslim, I say by God’s grace because He must play a role in anything we do. Hope because we are humans; we give chances for human errors,” he stated. Punch