The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has said the House would stick to the deadline of Oct. 29 given to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to conclude their budget defences for 2020.
Gbajabiamila said this while addressing newsmen on Wednesday, October 23.
The House, on Oct. 10, suspended its plenary sessions to focus on the timetable it set up for the 2020 Appropriation Bill; aimed at ensuring Nigeria’s budget cycle was returned to the January-December calendar year.
According to the timetable, the House gave a deadline of Oct. 30 till Nov. 5 for submission of budget reports by MDAs.
“We can get back to the January-December cycle and; at the same time have a fact thorough, comprehensive budget defence process.
“We are trying to see if we can beat before the deadline.”
Responding to questions on former House members who are now ministers asked to just “take a bow” and some of the meetings holding behind closed doors,; the Speaker expressed confidence in the competence of the committee chairmen and the process of the budget defence.
“I have absolute confidence in the committee chairmen; they were carefully selected based on their background, experience, knowledge and passion.
“If you see things like you have expressed, there will be reasons and genuine verifiable reason as well.
“Budget process is an open thing; there is transparency, accountability. But if there are one or two occasions there were closed-door or private meetings, there might be implications.
“It could be security implications or things that are necessary for the cohesion of the process itself and for the country.
“I might not be able to preempt because I have not spoken with the chairmen. But it is information I will take and talk to the chairmen and find out why the meeting was in closed-door,” Gbajabiamila said.
Earlier, at a public hearing on the 2020 budget, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly’s commitment was to return the country’s budget to the January to December cycle for proper implementation.
He added that the National Assembly sought to address such anomalies with the implementation of the budget and “carry Nigerians along”.
The speaker said the public hearing was organised to get input from Nigerians; as well as the relevant stakeholders and reflect the federal character in projects allocation.