The president presented the budget estimates before a joint session of the National Assembly
Presiding officers of the National Assembly, Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, have pledged to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.
The two lawmakers made this known on Thursday in separate remarks after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget estimates.
In his brief welcome address, Mr Lawan expressed the readiness of the parliament to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.
“We expect that before the end of the year, the 2020 budget would have been fully implemented,” Mr Lawan says.
He said the passage of the 2020 budget and assent in good time was a clear indication of the smooth working relationship between the executive and legislature.
He added that the implementation of the 2020 budget has shown remarkable improvement compared to previous years.
He also said he hopes the 2021 budget would be targeted at a consolidation of the gains of the 2020 budget, adding that it should also be targeted at creating more jobs.
Nigeria has in the past seven years operated an irregular budget circle.
Promise kept – Gbajabiamila
In his closing remarks, Mr Gbajabiamila also thanked his colleagues for making the budget circle of January – December a reality.
“We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.”
“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process.”
“Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.
“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.”
“We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment,” he said.
He said, however, that more needs to be done to assure Nigerian that the National Assembly will continue in this regard.
He also seized the opportunity to announce a new protocol in the National Assembly.
“Let me also use this opportunity to announce a new protocol in the House. Henceforth, all ministries, departments and agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.”
“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.”
“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any point in time,” he said.