Senate commences debate on N27.5 trillion budget for 2024

Sharon EboesomiNovember 30, 20234 min

Senators generally spoke in favour of the N27.5 trillion budget bill and expressed willingness to pass it for second reading

N27.5trillion budget

The Senate on Thursday commenced debate on the general principles of the proposed N27.5 trillion budget for 2024.

Recall that the budget estimate was laid at a joint sitting of the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday. Senators took turns to air their views on the proposal.

In his lead debate, the Senate Leader, Sen. Michael Opeyemi (APC, Ekiti Central) said the budget would prioritise electricity, procurement of vaccines, major roads and railway projects. “We need to pursue non-debt options to finance these projects,” Bamidele said and urged his colleagues to allow the N27.5 trillion budget scale second reading.

Supportng the second reading of the budget, Senator Joel Onohwakpo (APC, Delta South) stressed its great importance as it seeks to give a “renewed hope” to the Nigerians.

He said: “If you look at the budget, the capital expenditure is 8.7 trillion and I think that with this budget most of the things that have been lacking will be attended to. The budget is one of the things that we will find useful in working with the President of Nigeria and we will give him the opportunity to give Nigerians a renewed hope. Apart from the oil revenue we intend to get we also intend to increase the tax to 18%. This bill should be passed as a matter of urgency.”

In his contribution, Senator Osita Ngwu (PDP, Enugu West) spoke on the need to ensure that the oil production in the country does not decline again. “We need to review the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act) because since the implementation of the PIA there have been bigger problems,” he said.

Senator Eteng Williams (APC, Cross River Central) expressed satisfaction with the oil production benchmark. He said: “According to the budget, the daily oil production will be 1.7 million barrels per day which is very encouraging and we know that when we came into government, it was 1.3 million barrels. This budget is a good one and it has given us a renewed hope.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the challenges facing the implementation of the budget, Senator Binos Yaroe ( PDP, Adamawa South) expressed dissatisfaction over the process of considering and approving the budget in the past,  urging his colleagues to carry out proper scrutiny of the N27.5 trillion budget. “In most cases the supplementary budget was rushed and we weren’t given enough time to look into the budget,” eh said, adding: “I call on everyone of us that when we are scrutinizing this budget, let us ensure that fairness and equity prevails.”

On his part, Senator Oyewunmi Olalere (PDP, Osun West) urged his colleagues to ensure that the various standing committees of the Senate that would be involved in the budget defense exercise carry out their respective duties as expected. “A lot needs to be done by the National Assembly to ensure that that various committees should take responsibility for the monitoring. A lot of projects from last year have been abandoned; we appeal that the 2024 budget should capture it and all other necessary aspects should be captured. In my senatorial district, a major road there is bad. I want to call on the Senate to add it. My people have been calling from my senatorial district to confirm if it is part of the budget.”

Senator Ekong Samson (PDP, Akwa-Ibom South), however, called agttention to the issue of insecurity in the country and expressed concerns about a lack of implementation of the budget. He said, “I have seen attention in respect of security and it is very key because we cannot get anywhere if our space is not secure. A budget should also create access to opportunity. There has been a critical issue of implementation. I want to ask that we ensure the budget is implemented. The people of Akwa-Ibom South have very high hopes for the budget.”

For Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan (PDP, Kogi Central), the poor educational system in her senatorial district was of concern, saying a majority of school children usually sit on the floor to learn. “80% of the public schools in Kogi Central are in dilapidated situation and we need improvement.”

Following these debates on the floor, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, called for adjournment of sitting till tomorrow, Friday, 1st December, 2023 for more debates and contributions.

Sharon Eboesomi

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