2017 Budget Debate: Senate Budget unknown to senators says, Ali Ndume

As the senate continued debate on the 2017 budget on Wednesday, the exercise took a dramatic turn when a former Majority Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, challenged the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for allegedly skipping his name on the list of lawmakers billed to speak on the budget.

Before the debate begun, the Senate President announced to the house that 39 senators had been listed for the exercise for the day. Following the announcement of three senators (John Enoh, Abiodun Olujimi and Adeola Olamilekan) to contribute to the budget debate after Senator Dino Malaye’s submission, Ndume raised a point of order, alleging that his name had been skipped on the list.

The former Majority Leader claimed he wrote his name next to Senator Dino but was not called upon. “My point of order is Order 15. When you announced the debate on the budget, you asked us to write our names and I wrote my name and my name is listed after distinguished Senator Dino Melaye. I was prepared and I was following but I didn’t hear you call my name. So, I don’t know when I will contribute again,” he said. In response to the point of order raised by Ndume, the Senate President said he was not aware of any other list and would only go by his list. “The list I have is what we will go by I don’t know any other list. So, follow my list and you will be called in due time”.

Saraki, later called on Ndume after two more senators had spoken, but the former Senate Leader was no more in the chamber. Ndume, was however given a second chance after his return to the chamber, dismissed the 2017 budget as lacking details.

He stated that the lawmakers had no clue on what their budget was. He said, “We come here to pass the budget without seeing the details. This is a government of change and this must change. The details of the budget report should, and as required, be considered holistically.

Last year, we had several issues with the budget: in fact, to some extent, very embarrassing. And that is because some of us were even innocent; we didn’t know what was in the budget because the details of the budget were not provided and this should be not done this year.

“The budget of the Senate is not known to the senators; it should be known this year. This is very important because we cannot be taking blame or hold credit for what we don’t know. Mr. President, if you look at the 2016 budget, yes, we have been given the budget performance but what budget 2016 contains in relation to 2017 budget is not available.” Speaking further, Ndume advocated for the increase of allocation to the North East geopolitical zone.

” The world contributed as at December 2016 last year, about N130 billion to North East while Nigeria budgeted N12 billion for the region. Out of the amount only N3 billion was released. ” Distinguished colleagues, we are in an emergency situation I beg you we need help.

This is an emergency situation; I swear to God somebody will die today because of hunger related issue in the northeast. As I tell you, 22 local governments have been recovered but there are no villages,” he said. Ndume had recently been removed by the All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate as the Majority Leader, making him to fall out with the Like Minds faction of the caucus, which is loyal to Saraki.

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