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Nigeria’s Parliament Expected to Pass 2024 Budget Before Christmas

The Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation said on Monday, that it had perfected arrangements to pass the 2024 appropriation bill before the end of the week.

The panel handed down a 48-hour deadline to all sub-committees to submit their reports on the 2024 budget. This was preparatory to the eventual signing into law of the N27.5 trillion appropriation bill by President Bola Tinubu before the end of December.

Chairman of the appropriation committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, made the assertions at the sitting of the panel on Monday.

In his opening remarks at the session, Adeola enjoined all the sub-committees to keep to the deadline to enable the National Assembly meet the January-December budget cycle.

He said, “I am appealing to all my colleagues. Please, I am ready, and the deadline is Wednesday this week, to receive all reports, all standing committees of the senate.

“By Wednesday, any agency or any committee that has not submitted their report before the committee, it is assumed that you are giving us the omnibus power to go ahead and treat your budget independently of that committee.

“So, we are appealing to all chairmen of various committees to, please, submit their reports on or before Wednesday this week.

“Today, we formally opened the secretariat to all chairmen of committees and their secretariat to start the defence of their respective budgets of their MDAs before the Committee on Appropriations.

“I want to implore my colleagues, please, we are readily available to receive their reports.”

Adeola hoped the budget would be passed upon resumption of plenary by the National Assembly on December 20.

“But without this submission before the committee, there is little or nothing we can do and as you are all aware, the tradition of the National Assembly is to pass the budget into law by 31st of December of every year,” he stated.

Adeola added, “This 10th Senate cannot be an exemption. We have to work round the clock. We understand the stress everybody is going through but that is why we are here.”

From the sub-committee reports submitted on Monday, the lawmakers raised the issue of the 136 Nigerians trapped in Ethiopian prisons.

They also spoke about the N5 billion proposed in the budget to revamp the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State.

The Committee on Tourism, chaired by Senator Ireti Kingibe, and Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations, headed by Senator Victor Umeh, led on Monday, in submitting their respective reports.

While submitting his report, Umeh said some of the 136 Nigerians serving various jail terms had sought to be transferred to Nigeria to serve out their punishment. He told the committee that the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), which was responsible for handling their matter, was handicapped due to poor funding.

Umeh revealed that the commission was given a budget of N1.2 billion for 2024, out of which N652.9 million was earmarked for capital expenditure. He said looking at the workload of NIDCOM, N4.9 billion was recommended by his committee as the agency’s capital budget.

Umeh said that would cover five new line items introduced to the budget, including addressing the plight of Nigerians in foreign prisons, organising Diaspora summits, and other projects to coordinate the activities of Nigerians living outside the shores of the country.

Responding, Adeola promised that the committee on appropriation would review the report and find a way to shore up the budget of NIDCOM, “Considering the very important work they have been doing.”

He added, “We will pay attention to NIDCOM in our reporting stage. However, we will do a review of the five new lines and prioritise them.”

On her part, Kingibe told the committee that out of the N7.9 billion proposed as the capital budget of the Ministry of Tourism, over N5 billion was earmarked for the Obudu Cattle Ranch.

She said it was not proper in her view for one geopolitical zone to take more than half of the total capital vote of the agency, to the neglect of other zones.

The committee replied that while her point was taken, members would investigate how the N5 billion would be spent, to be sure that it would actually go into the revamping of the Obudu ranch.

Adeola said, “We will investigate why we are spending this N5 billion in just one geopolitical zone.

“But, we have to also understand that we are still not yet there with this money allocated to tourism.

“We have to do more if we really want to drive tourism in this country.”

Source: Arise News