By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE Senate said yesterday that its Committees on Finance, Appropriations and Planning would soon submit their reports on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, which were passed and sent to them for necessary legislative actions and recommendations.
It also explained that it withheld its earlier clearance of Mr Okon Obla, as commissioner on the board of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, because its votes and proceedings of the plenary where he was cleared were not adopted the next legislative day.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, who stated this while reacting to a story, captioned Presidency Accuses National Assembly of Frustrating 2017 Budget Submission”, said: “The attention of the National Assembly has been drawn to a misleading, malicious and false report that the National Assembly is frustrating the submission of the 2017 Appropriation Bill because of the contention over refusal of the Presidency to approve the constituency project of the lawmakers.
“The said story quoted an unnamed Presidency official as its source. Much as the National Assembly does not respond to speculations in the media, it, however, wishes to state as follows.
“The said news item is completely false. The Senate on November 22, 2016 at the plenary session deliberated on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and passed it on to its legislative committees for necessary legislative actions and recommendations.
“Throughout the debate at the plenary, no mention was made of the constituency projects of the lawmakers as it was not the subject of debate. Rather, the Senators took time to comment on the observed deficiencies of the MTEF/FSP document before the National Assembly.
“The Senators observed the unrealistic aspect of the document pointing out that it was not in tune with realities on ground.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, explained that it withheld its earlier clearance of Mr Okon Obla, as one of the nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment into the board of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, because its votes and proceedings of the plenary where he was cleared were not adopted the next legislative day.
Giving reasons following media reports to the effect that it withheld Obla’s clearance after it screened and cleared him for appointment into the commission’s board, the Red Chamber insisted that the non- adoption of the plenary by senators the next day invalidated Obla’s clearance.
To this effect, it said what appeared like clearance to outsiders was never so, and advised those willing to make issues out of it to desist .
Speaking through its spokesman, Aliyu Sabi, in a statement, the Senate insisted that the nomination of Mr. Obla was never confirmed or voted for since no decision of the Senate was adopted.
It said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the nomination of Mr. Obla was never confirmed or voted for since no decision of the Senate is said to be approved if not adopted during the consideration of the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate at the next legislative day.
“The Senate also wishes to note that the business of the Senate can only be binding when the votes and proceedings have been adopted and approved without any objection.
“The implication of the directive by the Senate President to the Secretariat is that Senator Garbai’s observation or correction was correct and therefore the votes and proceedings should be amended to reflect the true situation.
“ On that fateful day, November 22, 2016, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, objected to the alleged confirmation of the nominee, saying my name is Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai representing Borno Central Senatorial District.
‘’Mr, President, what is actually reported in the votes and proceedings is not a true reflection of what transpired on Thursday with regards to the confirmation of one of the commissioners under NCC, Chief Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla. The decision then was a resounding Nay. So, because of that, it was a mistake.