The National Assembly is working towards the return of the January – December Nigerian budget cycle, Ahmad Lawan, the senate president, has said.
Lawan spoke shortly before adjourning the ninth assembly for a two-month recess.
The adjournment was initially delayed to allow for the screening of the 43 ministerial nominees sent by president Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation.
The screening began on Wednesday last week and ended Tuesday with the confirmation of all the 43 nominees.
“The budget 2020 is going to be part of what we want to do differently from the previous sessions of the Senate,” Mr Lawan said.
He said the expectation of the lawmakers is that the 2020 Appropriation Bill will be presented to the National Assembly on their return from the recess in September.
“It is our prayer and hope. It is desirable that that is done,” Lawan said.
“Once that is done, it is our intention in the Senate and in the entire National Assembly that we devote a month of, possibly, October for budget defence only.
“In a situation that we are able to achieve that, no more budget defence after October.
“Any ministry or agency of government that fails to appear to defend its budget, the National Assembly will take an appropriate action so that we are able to have November and a week or two in December to process and pass the budget and send it to Mr President to sign in December before Christmas.
“We believe that if we are able to do that, our budget will go back to that regular cycle, that desirable cycle of January to December and that will enhance the budget performance of this country,” Lawan said.
He commended his colleagues for their patriotism and commitment to duty in the prompt confirmation of the ministerial nominees.
The Senate, he said, is prepared to work with the Executive for optimum performance, warning that the ninth Senate will be strict when it comes to discharging its oversight functions.
According to him, members are going to take their oversight very seriously and devote time to do the right things.
Lawan advised ministers to always respond to invitations by the National Assembly, adding that “while we are not going to be frivolous, we are going to be firm and serious with our oversight.”
“Nigerians are desirous of going to the next level and we can only go to that next level when we are able to work together to make Nigerians and Nigeria better in terms of service delivery,” Lawan said.