The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, said it had resolved to “reexamine” the 2016 budget amid the heated controversy over the Lagos-Calabar rail project.
The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, disclosed this after lawmakers emerged from a closed-door session.
He said the National Assembly would liaise with the Executive to address areas of concern in the budget.
The fresh budget row began weekend when the President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet said certain projects, including the N60 billion Lagos-Calabar rail, critical for infrastructural focus of the regime, was removed from the budget approved by lawmakers, while projects not proposed at all were added.
The National Assembly insisted the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the budget, and could not have been removed since it was not proposed in the first place.
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, said although the controversial project was not in the original project, it was captured in a supplementary proposal by the Transport Ministry and was passed to the Appropriations Committee for inclusion.
On Tuesday, the Senate asked Mr. Buhari to sign the budget and then send a supplementary budget later to capture the rail project.
But the House has a different position.
“In view of the prevailing economic situation and in in the interest of our people, we have resolved to re examine the budget with a view of ironing out any differences with the executive,” Mr. Dogara said.
This position was further reiterated by the House spokesperson, Abdulrazaq Namdas, after Wednesday’s plenary.
“We were fully briefed by the Chairman appropriation committee and we agreed as a chamber, as a House delegated the Speaker to please go ahead and engage the executive to identify the areas of concern and that he should report back to us with the hope that these things in the national interest and see that this country move forward,” he said, while addressing journalists.
He added, “There are issues in particular, the Calabar Lagos Rail project that has been in the media. I want to reiterate here for the second time that the project was not among the project submitted by the President to the National Assembly.
“We are not saying that as a House that the Calabar Lagos rail project is not good, we know it is a viable project.
“Our own area of concern is that what people say that this thing was in the budget and we removed it. That is why we are making these clarification and again I want to state it clearly up till now as I speak there is no communication from the executive, the President to the National Assembly as I speak about the budget.
“All that we read in the media are other people’s opinions but Mr President has not come out clearly on this and this is my problem with the budget that has been passed because as we were told, the budget has been taken back to the ministries for them to examine and get back to the president.”
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