As the joint appropriations committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives commence public hearing on the 2017 appropriation bill today, about 59 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and professional bodies are slated to contribute to the appropriation processes.
Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and publicity, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas stated this during an interaction with newsmen in Abuja.
He also disclosed that 2/3 members of every committee must append their signatures on the proposed sectoral budget before it is presented to the committee on appropriation.
This according to him, is to avoid situation where committee members will not be consulted during the exercise as witnessed during the 2016 appropriation process.
“Even the committee’s work that were done, we have agreed that no committee chairman will submit report to the appropriation committee without signatures of 2/3rd majors of the committee members, because we have had issues that some of the chairmen did not consult like heard during the 2016 appropriation process.
“The complaint was that the then chairman of appropriations committee did everything on his own, without consulting members of the committee, so we felt that it is not only appropriation but all the committees,” Namdas said.
He explained that the professional bodies and CSOs are expected to appear before the joint committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate over details of the proposed budget.
“This is the first time in the history of this country that the public are being invited for public hearing on the budget. The NGOs, NBA, NLC, are invited to look at the budget as presented by the President so that we can have thier views, so that we can pass a budget that tomorrow people will not be complaining that this is an exclusive job of the legislature,” he added.
Namdas further explained that the public hearing was meant to strengthen confidence of Nigerians in the National Assembly.
“Even in other bills, we hold public hearings, where experts give their view, so it is just to strengthen the people’s confidence in the National Assembly,” he stated.
Namdas who noted that the House of Representatives has the exclusive preserve of budget appropriation, while the Senate has the power of confirmation, emphasised that decisions of either chambers of the National Assembly must enjoy concurrence of the other before it can become a law.
“It is important to note that the House of Representatives holds the power of appropriation, while the Senate holds the power of confirmation. For reports to reflect that the Senate will hold a public hearing makes the public think that it is the senate alone that is holding the public hearing. But that is not so, it is going to be a joint public hearing with the appropriation committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Namdas while responding to questions disclosed that 17 acts out of the total numbers of 18 acts already assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, emanated from the House.
He also said that 8 bills out of the total 10 bills awaiting presidential assent also emanated from the House, while the remaining two originated from the Senate.
“You will remember that I told you the last time that the President since he came to power has signed a total number of 18 bills presented to him by the National Assembly, out of these 18 bills, 17 emanated from the House of Representatives.
“Also there are 10 bills awaiting presidential assent, 8 out of the bills also emanated from the House. But they are all bills from the National Assembly, people should not misunderstand the functions of the National Assembly, we all work together for the good of Nigerians,” he stated.