The 2019 budget might be facing a set back as some Senators heading various committess have not been seen at sittings days after their resumption from election recess on 12th March, 2019, thus raising questions of their commitment to legislative activities.
The absence of these lawmakers have affected their committees and in particular debates on the N8.83 trillion 2019 annual budget that has passed the second reading at both Chambers.
The budget which was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on 23rd December 2018 was debated at the Senate and House of Representatives and has passed second reading while awaiting the various Committee’s action for a final date when it would be passed into law.
The upper and lower legislative Chambers’ closed session on 24th January 2019 to enable lawmakers participate in elections which were scheduled for 9th and 23rd February, 2019.
These absentee Senators were assigned to head Committees that are expected to scrutinize and vetoe budgets of government ministries and departments before harmonization for a final passage.
The affected committees, are led by the following lawmakers viz: Senator George Akume (Army), Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Agriculture and Rural Development) , Senator Isah Hamman Misau (Airforce), Senator Suleiman Nazif (INEC), Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Communication), Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim (Banking, Insurance and Financial institutions), Senator Magnus Abe (FERMA), Senator Binta Marshi Garba (Women Affairs), Senator Usman Bayero Nafada headed Committee on Interior but was later taken over by Senator Andy Uba who has not been seen too.
Others include Senator Abdullaziz Murtala Nyako (Special Duties), Senator Hope Uzodimma (Custom and Excise), Senator Abdulfatai Buhari (Cyber crime) while his Deputy, Senator Foster Ogola has also been absent.
Although some of the Senators contested in the governorship election in their States on different political platforms, mainly the ruling All Progressives Congress and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and others staged a come-back to the Senate, while others did not contest at all.
However, the former Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who lost his Senatorial election in Akwa Ibom state is yet to resume sitting. Similarly, former Senate President, David Mark who has never shown commitment to the 8th Senate’s legislative activities has not been around.
At Tuesday’s plenary, the 2019 annual budget passed the second reading with lawmakers who were available taking turns to make an input.
Immediately it passed through second reading, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki urged heads of Ministries, Agencies and Departments to make themselves available and cooperate with various Committees before 2nd April resumption.
Saraki in his remark to mark the debate on the budget explained that it would be passed into law early April, but it remains to be seen how possible it will be, considering the fact that some of those Senators have not been available.