Setback for Wike as Senate steps down N98.5bn Abuja budget bill

Sharon EboesomiJune 5, 20245 min

The Abuja budget bill was stepped down because there were no details of how N98.5billion would be spent on as supplementary appropriation 

Senate steps down N98.5bn FCT supplementary appropriation bill

The Senate has stepped down an Abuja supplementary budget bill seeking to approve a N98.5billion expenditure for ongoing projects within Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This was during Wednesday’s plenary session when the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), sought the chamber to debate the bill and possibly approve it. This development can be interpreted as a temporary setback for FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, who has been on a rash of project implementation and commissioning within the territory in recent times. 

In his lead debate, Bamidele noted that the FCT 2024 supplementary budget seeks to consolidate the magnitude and scope of the ongoing projects simultaneously within the city center and the area councils.

He said, The total revenue proposed for the FCT is N98.5 billion. The FCT 2024 statutory budget will consolidate the magnitude of the ongoing projects.

The summary of the 2024 FCT supplementary project proposal is as follows: Total revenue proposed, N98.5 billion only and the total expenditure proposed is in the sum of N98.5 billion Naira only.”

Bamidele however, did not offer a breakdown of how the funds would be spent, leading to demurring from his colleagues.

READ ALSO: Senate increases and passes N1.28trn fct statutory budget 

Senator Ede Dafinone (APC, Delta Central) was the first to raise concerns over the unavailability of a breakdown of the Abuja budget bill. I would like to note that the supplementary budget presented before us here does not give us any clarification on the revenue proposed or the usage of the funds. We are given two generic headings, total revenue proposed N98.5 billion and total expenditure proposed N98.5 billion,” he said, adding:

“I want to suggest that some further clarification should be required to enable this House to know exactly where the revenue was generated and also how the expenditure would be made so that we could approve both the revenue and the expenditure.”

In the same vein, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) stressed that there would be no point debating a bill without a proper breakdown presented to the Senators. He said: “I am not against this budget, but I feel when we are presenting budgets like this, we should do them in the right way, so that posterity will also join this fight. 

“When we are presenting a budget, it is supposed to come with a profile or a breakdown of what the expenditure is, what is the source of the revenue, what is the performance of the previous budget, and then from there, we deliberate it. But if it is going to be committed to the committee level, then we are not supposed to debate it at a plenary.”

Responding to the observations, the President of the Senate Godswill Akpabio said: “The leader of the Senate, you have heard this observation, there is nothing before us to debate. Therefore, I would put the question, those who are in support of this supplementary appropriation to be read for a second time, say aye, those against say nay.”

Majority of senators present were clearly against the second reading of the bill. 

This subsequently led to a brief rowdy session as lawmakers began to mumur within themselves, clearly showing that they will not back down on their decision unless the breakdown of the budget is presented.

Some other senators immediately began to approach Akpabio to have a one on one conversation.

In his response, Senator Bamidele called for the bill to be temporarily stepped down pending when copies of details would be made available for senators.

“It is our tradition in Parliament that when a money bill is presented the agency that is bringing it through the relevant committee  would attach the breakdown of the proposed budget estimates. I think it’s important that we do the proper thing, so what I will suggest is that for the  details of the breakdown to be presented, the chairman should be allowed to go and make photocopies so that every senator here will have a copy of this.”

The bill was immediately stepped down as a result.

Sharon Eboesomi

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