13th January, 2016
For Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of Nigeria House of Representatives, the belief that the hard and soft copies of the 2016 budget as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last December were missing, is a joke taken too far.
Indeed, to Dogara, the report of the missing budget is nothing but “an incredible and award winning April fool stunt.”
The Speaker said this on his twitter account in reaction to reports on Tuesday that Senators who resumed plenary after the yuletide holidays on Tuesday were informed by Senator Ali Ndume, the Senate Leader that the hard and soft copies of the budget were missing.
The Senate Leader reportedly informed his colleagues of the development at a closed session. Senate President Bukola Saraki refused to confirm or refute report of the missing budget when he was confronted by journalists during his visit to President Buhari on Tuesday.
The Speaker said on his twitter handle, @doyakubu said: “1st April arrived too early this year on Twitter. 2016 Budget estimates stolen at NASS? Pretty funny stuff! “It’s an incredible and award winning April fool stunt.”
“The budget is in the custody of the Clerk to the House of Representatives. I can confirm no one has broken into his office. Each of the two Houses got a copy of the Budget estimate,” said the speaker while dismissing the report.
Also reacting, Nigerian Senate Leader, Senator Muhammed Ndume who was alleged to have told his colleagues that the soft and hard copies of 2016 budget were missing from the National Assembly at an executive session on Tuesday denied the claim.
The Senate leader said there was no way the budget could be missing.
According to him, there is the ceremonial copy laid by President Muhammadu Buhari before the National Assembly while each chamber also has its own copy of the budget proposal.
Ndume refused to confirm if the ceremonial copy laid before the National Assembly by the President is missing.
“Budget cannot be missing. One copy can be laid. It is a symbolic copy. The budget will be in custody of both chambers. It cannot be stolen. It cannot be missing,” Ndume said.
“Once the budget is laid in the National Assembly, it has become the property of National Assembly. Senate President Bukola Saraki had refused to confirm or refute report of the missing budget when he was confronted by journalists after a meeting with President Buhari on Tuesday.
But the Senate leader said the visit of Saraki was also in relation to the work that is about to commence by the Senators on the budget:
“Saraki’s visit to Villa is for Senate to know the President’s priority. We want to see how we can fast track the passage of the budget before the end of February. What is before the Senate is a proposal. Once the President signs it, it cannot be amended. We can turn the budget upside down. It cannot be missing.”