By Emmanuel Aziken & Inalegwu Shaibu
The Senate has acquitted itself from blame over the poor state of the nationâ€™s roads, saying that Nigerians should hold the executive wholly responsible.
The Senate also yesterday hinged the timely passage of the 2010 budget of the Federal Government on the timely presentation of the budget proposals by President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Senate’s spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze, at a briefing in the National Assembly, also reiterated the Senateâ€™s determination to pass a reviewed constitution in its time.
Butressing its readiness on the passage of a new constitution, Eze said the Senate had invited the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, to join Ghanaâ€™s electoral chief, Dr. Afari Gyan, at the Senate retreat on constitution review.
Responding to questions on the spate of federal roads, Eze said: â€œWe were told by the Minister of Works that they have awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of 25 roads across the country, which they called priority roads.
â€œIn spite of these claims by the executive about these roads, we have gone to our constituencies, there is no impact, there is no evidence that what we are seeing on the adverts on television is reflected on the ground. I think that journalists should be holding the minister accountable and not the legislature.
â€œWe have given the money, we have given them the necessary legislative approval to go and do the work. If the Minister does not do what he is supposed to be doing, you do not blame it on the National Assembly and say that the people believe that the National Assembly do not want the roads to be executed.
We want the roads to be executed that is why we approved the budget and that is why additionally we set up a committee deriving our powers from section 88 and 89 of the constitution to investigate what is going on.â€™â€™
On the invitation to Ghanaâ€™s electoral chief, he said:
â€œWhat we did was to extend an invitation to the head of electoral commission in Ghana to come and address us in our retreats and give us insight into the Ghana perspective because people have been talking about what Ghana has achieved and we thought that since we are doing a reform of the electoral process we can also borrow a leaf from Ghana.â€™â€™
Asked on when the 2010 budget would be passed, Senator Eze referred to a letter from President Umaru Yarâ€˜Adua submitting copies of the medium term expenditure framework to the Senate.
He said that the passage of the budget proposals would depend on when the proposals are received by the Senate.
â€œPart of the process what you saw the president do today. The letter he sent to us on the medium term expenditure framework. That is what is required to be sent to the National Assembly by the fiscal responsibility bill as a precursor to the budget and I think that he has already kicked the process.â€
â€The consultations that are supposed to be going on are going on at different levels and I think that general engagement of the committee will soon start now that we have gotten this memo from the president. Our job is not to bring the budget our job is process the budget and I am going to assure you that we are going to do everything within our powers to ensure that we do thorough jobs and ensure that it is not a bow and go budget.â€™â€™