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Buhari’s SSA smuggled fake 2016 budget to Senate – Saraki

Buhari’s SSA smuggled fake 2016 budget to Senate – Saraki
The last may not have been heard on the reported missing of 2016 Appropriation bill presented to the joint sitting of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, last year.
In the midst of the bulk passing game, Senate President, Bukola Saraki yesterday publicly accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang of printing and circulating among senators, another version of the Appropriation bill, different from the authentic one presented by the President.

Saraki made the revelation while summarising the outcome of the closed door meeting, which deliberated on the report of the committee set up to probe the circumstances surrounding the alleged missing of the budget. Following the reported missing of the appropriation bill, the Senate upon resumption on Tuesday, conveyed a closed meeting where the issue was deliberated upon extensively. The lawmakers resolved at the end of the meeting to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged missing of the document. Consequently, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition was mandated to undertake the probe.

The Senate, upon resumption yesterday, went into another closed door meeting, which lasted for close to two hours to deliberate on the report of the ad hoc committee. Announcing the outcome of the closed door meeting, Saraki said: “Our finding is that Senator Eta Inang, the Senior Special Assistant to the National Assembly Matters (Senate) printed copies on the 2016 appropriation bill and brought to the Senate. “We have discovered that what he brought is different from the version presented by Mr. President. We have resolved to consider only the version presented by Mr. President as soon as we receive the soft copy of the original document from the executive.”

Our correspondent gathered that the closed door meeting was a very heated session, especially on how to proceed with the matter. While many All Progressives Congress, APC, senators favoured a more amicable settlement of the matter, their Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, counterparts preferred an open approach, so as not to allow the presidency to make a scale goat of the Senate on the matter. At the end of the day, the senators resolved to lay the issue bare to the public in order to exonerate them from any form of complicity. Briefing newsmen at the end of yesterday’s plenary session, Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi said: “The report about a missing budget is not true. We don’t have a budget that is missing. But you recalled that the Senate president did inform Nigerians that there is an issue that a committee was asked to investigate.

“The investigation by the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, has been submitted in the executive session. It was a decision we took at the last executive session. “Our findings are these: That Mr. President did lay the budget before the joint session of the National Assembly and thereafter, the Senate went on recess and upon resumption, copies of the document were produced by Senator Ita Enang, who is the SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and the copies were submitted to Senate and House of Representatives.

“What we found out is that the document submitted by Senator Ita Enang, upon our resumption, has some differences, discrepancies with what was originally laid by Mr. President in the joint sitting of the National Assembly. “However, the Senate in defence of its own integrity, honour, will not work with what has not been laid on the floor of the National Assembly. We are constitutionally mandated and duty bound to consider only that budget that had been so laid by Mr. President.
“Right now, for reproduction, we are awaiting the soft copy of the originally submitted budget so that the National Assembly can reproduce the copy itself. That is the only time we can have confidence in the document we want to work with.

“The budget submitted by the president is not missing, we already have copies of it but what we are saying is that for us to reproduce for our members, it is easier, based on the quantum of document that has to be produced, that we get the soft copy of that original version so that we can reproduce it.
“By next week, we want to go down to business; senators had picked dates to speak during the three days set aside for debate on the 2016 budget. “The Senate leadership was mandated to speak with all those concerned with the document, that was why the Senate President was in touch with Mr. President.”

Abdullahi refused to speak on the claims by the House of Representatives that it had its own original version of the document. “I am not in the position to say the differences between the document submitted by the president and the one brought by Ita Enang. The committee that investigated the issue did not include that in their report. “As at the time the Senate President promised to make copies available to senators today (Thursday), he was working on the assumption that what was brought by the executive were copies of the original copies submitted by Mr. President, but based on the outcry, it was discovered that they are another version different from what the president gave us,” he said. Efforts to get the side of Inang on the matter were unsuccessful as the SSA, who initially agreed to speak with newsmen later changed his mind at the last minute. Our correspondent further gathered that the senators were very angry and have vowed to take punitive sanctions against Inang should the President fail to punish him appropriately at the end of one week. The Senate also yesterday passed a resolution summoning the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele to appear before it to explain the causes and solution to the free fall of the Naira against other major currencies of the world.

Emefiele is to appear before the Senate next week Tuesday. This resolution followed a motion raised by Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who complained about the drastic fall in the value of the Naira in the past week.