Calabar-Lagos-Rail: Senate Vows Not To Revisit Budget, Claims Presidency’s Mistakes

SenateThe Senate, Tuesday, insisted that it would not revisit the 2016 budget it has already passed over the controversial Calabar-Lagos coastal rail project allegedly expunged by the National Assembly.
The Senate also stood its ground that the project was not included in the 2016 Appropriation Bill but that it could be included if President Muhammadu Buhari first signs the pending bill into law and later send a supplementary proposal to capture the project.
Addressing National Assembly correspondents after a one-hour long closed-door session yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi, however, advised the executive to eat the humble pie by admitting its error in not including the project in the original 2016 budget.
There has been controversy over the Calabar-Lagos rail project, with anonymous Presidency sources accusing the National Assembly of excluding it from the budget.
The Senate and the House of Representatives deny that claim.
“That we say it (Calabar-Lagos rail project) is not in the budget does not undermine the fact it is very important”, Senator Sabi said.
“We have proffered a way forward. Bring a supplementary budget regarding this project or any other one. We are more than willing to take it and cooperate. National Assembly is open whenever the Executive brings a supplementary budget.
“But we must be guided by constitution.
“We have passed the budget. Nigerians are asking what next. The budget should be signed.
“Section 81 of the Constitution takes care of a situation where there is omission or shortfalls. Sign the budget and submit a supplementary proposal”, he said.
“But the executive should admit it made a mistake”, the Senate spokesman added.
“It’s just for somebody to admit there is error. Why shouldn’t you ask why it was not in original budget? Why is it wrong to admit error when you committed a mistake?” he queried.
He insisted an earlier statement by Gbenga Ashafa, the Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transportation, was not in conflict with the Senate’s position that the project was not captured in the original budget.
He, however, was evasive when it was brought to his attention that Mr. Ashafa affirmed that his committee received a supplementary proposal from the Transport Ministry after receiving from the Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and passed it to the Appropriations Committee.
Meanwhile, it was a different scenario that played out in the lower legislative chamber as none of the lawmakers raised the issue of the controversy surrounding the alleged removal of the Calabar-Lagos coastal rail project.
It was expected that the matter would be brought up at plenary yesterday especially in view of the public condemnation that trailed the alleged removal of the project.
It was learnt that the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, approached the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, on two separate occasions on the need for the issue to be raised but nothing was said about it till the session ended.

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