President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said on Tuesday that the desire of the ninth Senate and indeed the National Assembly is to have the budget cycle returned to January to December.
A statement from the office of the Senate President indicates that Lawan spoke shortly before the Senate adjourned for a two-month recess which was initially delayed to allow for the confirmation of the 43 nominees of the President for ministerial appointments.
The screening exercise which started last Wednesday was concluded on Tuesday with the confirmation of all the 43 nominees.
Lawan, who explained that the expectation of the lawmakers is that the 2020 appropriation bill will be presented to the National Assembly on their return from the recess in September, also explained that the budget for 2020 is part of what the ninth Senate wants to do differently from the previous sessions of the Senate.
“Once that is done,” the Senate President said, “it is our intention in the entire National Assembly that we devote a month of, possibly, October for budget defence only.”
He added that if that could be achieved, there would be no more budget defence after October.
Lawan further warned that the National Assembly will take appropriate action against any ministry or agency of government that fails to appear to defend its budget “so that we are able to have November and a week or two in December to process and pass the budget and send it to Mr. President to sign in December before Christmas.
“We believe that if we are able to do that, our budget will go back to that regular cycle, that desirable cycle of January to December and that will enhance the budget performance of this country,” the Senate President said, while commending his colleagues for their sense of patriotism and commitment to duty in the prompt confirmation of the ministerial nominees.
He said the Senate is prepared to work with the executive for optimum performance but warned that the ninth Senate will be stiff when it comes to discharging its oversight functions.
“We are going to take our oversight very seriously because we will devote our time here to doing the right thing and we expect that ministers and heads of government agencies will also do the right thing.
“Nigerians are desirous of going to the next level and we can only go to that next level when we are able to work together to make Nigerians and Nigeria better in terms of service delivery,” Lawan said.
The Senate President advised ministers to always respond to any invitation by the National Assembly adding that “while we are not going to be frivolous, we are going to