The Nigerian Senate was on Tuesday thrown into a noisy session when Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) said the 2018 budget was “fictitious” and “dead on arrival”.
The Senator made the comment as the Senate opened debate on the 2018 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“What we debate usually is the general principles. What are we debating about a document that is totally fictitious?” he said.
His statement prompted the leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North), to come under section 53(7) of the senate rule to caution his colleague.
He said, “It shall be out of order to use offensive and inventive language. Mr President, to call a document that the president of the federal republic of Nigeria presented to the National Assembly fictitious is improper and unparliamentary.”
The warning however did not deter Mr. Abaribe as he continued by quoting the leader of the Senate in his speech.
“Mr. President, quoting the Senate leader in his speech,” he said, “the 2018 budget is designed to consolidate on the achievements of the 2016 and the 2017 budgets.
“What was done in 2017 when less than 15% of that budget was released?
Nothing was done. That is why I call it fictitious. I’m very sorry if that is the word he is bothered about. I withdraw the word fictitious and say that this is totally imaginary.
“Because nothing was done in 2017. That is a fact that we all know,” he said.
“Without going into the debate and the specifics, I can also say this: in the leader’s speech, he said ‘there was so much money that was received in 2017 and therefore there’s an estimate of N11 trillion to be gotten…and we know that as at last week, the total receivables that this government got was one-tenth of what was stated publicly.
“(Out of) the budget in 2017 of eight hundred and sixty something billion to be received, what was received was 150 billion. In what sense will the 2018 budget be predicated on an assumption that the facts have already destroyed.
“You are assuming 11 trillion, yet you are getting less than 1 trillion. That is why I said, with all due respect to my colleagues, rather than continuing to this debate that has no basis in reality, we may just continue to beg this government to be very specific in the indication of the assumptions underlined in the budget.