The House of Representatives on Thursday refused to consider the 2021 budget proposal of the Ministry of Aviation following the delayed submission of the estimates to the Legislature.
The fiscal papers supporting the budget estimates were submitted to the Committee on Aviation barely an hour to the budget defence session.
The Chairman of the Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, in his opening remarks during the consideration session, expressed serious worries that the budget documents were made available to the lawmakers less than two hours to the meeting.
The lawmaker said: ”Honourable Minister, l don’t know how you expect us to continue this meeting since we just got your 2021 budget proposal this morning despite giving you over a week’s notice so that we can read through and digest it before today.
“I am not blaming you for this but l must say that I’m disappointed in those who ought to have handled this but failed to do their jobs. For us to do a proper job, we need time to read through”, he added
Similarly, another committee member, Hon. Aminu Suleiman, noted that budget engagements transcended presentation and instant comprehension as lawmakers needed to get budget documents on time to study and to enable them make useful inputs.
Reacting to the lawmakers’ comments, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, apologized to the committee for the ministry’s failure to forward the documents before the meeting and his absence at previous meetings with the committee.
The minister pleaded: “First apology, Mr. Chairman is that I and the committee as represented by you fixed a date for concession hearing and that date coincided with the date that Mr. President said we should all go back home for the EndSARS protest. A new date was agreed upon between you and I and that date unfortunately fell on Eid Malud on Thursday, and then yet again another date was set and that date was the date that the Senate had put for the Aviation Bills that have been on for about five years. I like to tender apology to this committee which I served between 2003 and 2007.
“The second apology is that the permanent secretary would have been here to explain the reason we got the invitation to supply this document a week ago and is coming just this morning. Third apology is for whatever would have been the reason why the documents came to you this morning, having clear six working days to do so.
“However I just want to plead that kindly indulge us to give us any date that is not Wednesday because I stood down a memorandum that I would have delivered yesterday in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to be at the National Assembly. Yet again next Wednesday I will miss the opportunity to present that very important memorandum. Kindly indulge us to come back next Thursday”, Sirika added.
Following the minister’s profuse apology, the committee subsequently adjourned the ministry’s budget defence to next week Thursday based on the minister’s plea for change of the Wednesday date earlier proposed by the lawmakers.