By Ignatius Okorocha
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said on Friday that the National Assembly will pass the 2021 budget of N13. 08 trillion by the second week of December.
Lawan made this known while declaring open a retreat for members of National Assembly Management and National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).
It would be recalled that the Senate had in October, adjourned plenary for budget defence by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“We are working to pass the 2021 budget by the second week of December and we are working very assiduously, we will ensure there is every possible scrutiny of the budget presented by the executive arm of government.
“So far, we achieved that in 2020 budget. We believe that we did the right thing, we promised Nigerians we will do that and it is going to be part of our legacy in the 9th National Assembly,” Lawan said.
The President of the Senate said that other critical areas that will be considered when the Upper Chamber resume on Nov. 24 ,was the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“The PIB which is one of the most essential legislations to have in this country, we intend to pass it before the end of the second quarter of 2021.
“And then again, we will take our time because this is a very delicate and sensitive piece of legislation.
“We will ensure what comes out of the National Assembly in the PIB is a product of legislation that will ensure that Nigeria earns its revenues from the oil and gas, as it should.
“And of course, also, we will support our business people, the oil companies that are investing, and in fact retain and encourage new ones to invest in Nigeria,” he said.
Lawan aded:”So it has to be a win situation, win for all of us. We will not be selfish as a country, trying to take everything; no, oil is like water now. Almost every country now has oil.
“So if you don’t provide a competitive environment, the oil companies will have no difficulty relocating to other countries.
“So we will ensure that we have a competitive environment for business and for investments.”
He said that the two committees on Constitution amendment at the Senate and House of Representatives were already working behind the scene to ensure that the amendment was done in 2021.
“As soon as we pass the budget, the Constitution amendment activities will start in earnest.
“We believe that we should pass our amendments within 2021,” he said.
Lawan added that the amendment of the Electoral Act will also be done within 2021 in good time to prevent unnecessary distractions.
On the alleged jumbo pay for Federal lawmakers, the Senate President debunked such insinuation as false saying the National Assembly is allocated less than one percent of the National Budget yearly.
“So where is the remaining 99 percent. Yet instead of trying to see how the 125 billion to 128 billion naira will be utilised by the National Assembly system, what will be the output from the National Assembly, how useful are the output to the Nigerian public, we will always argue ‘cut the funding to the National Assembly.’ ‘Its bogus.’
“I’m not here to defend the National Assembly but I’m here to encourage a debate on what the National Assembly means to us as a country or what our legislature means to us as a country and as a people.
“If you don’t like the set of members in the Ninth National Assembly, change all of us in 2023. Get better people but help support the system to function because that is your protection,” Lawan said.