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Ndume leads lawmakers to Aso Villa over executive, legislative frosty relationship

…Says budget padding more of media hype

As part of the effort to bring to an end the sour relationship between the executive and National Assembly, the Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali-Ndume, on Friday, led a select senators and members of the House of Representatives to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The delegation, comprising three senators and three honourable members, joined President Buhari for Jumaat Service at the villa.

Speaking to the State House Correspondents shortly after the prayer, Senator Ali-Ndume said the effort was to improve the relationship between the executive and legislature which has for sometime turned sour.
“We are trying to improve executive and legislature relationship. Part of the way is for few selected members of the National Assembly to join the President in prayers on Fridays. That is why we are here.

“As you can see, there are three members of the House of Representatives and three members of the Senate. You will be seeing more of this in the near future in order to cement our relationship,” he said.

On the ongoing budget scandal, the senator representing Borno State described it as more of media hype.

His words: “The issue of budget padding is more of a media hype than reality. We are not doing budget now, we only have Appropriation Act which is a law and you know the process of implementing a law.

“I do not know where the issue of this budget padding we are talking about is coming from. If we are not to tinker with the budget as submitted by the President, then there would not have been the need to submit it to the National Assembly. We have the constitutional duty to add, subtract and adjust. That was what was done.

“This is the first time we did a budget that was collectively produced in the sense that it was done in such a way that the Senate, House of Representatives and the Executive played different parts. This time, the President took his time to ensure that he did not only sign on the budget, but also signed on budget details that he is satisfied with.”

He said what is playing out in the House of Representatives currently is nothing but a fallout between individuals, saying differences should not have been settled in such manner.

“What is happening now is a fallout between individuals; it is more of personal thing between Dogara and Jibrin. That is not the way differences should be settled. We have an in-house process that is followed if we have such issues. I am personally involved in reaching out to the parties involved,” he added.

Ali-Ndume said though the fight against Boko Haram is almost over with the commitment of present government, “we are currently facing another war: that is fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.”

The senator, who noted that government is also bracing up to the situation, called for the north-east’s assistance.

“We are crying out for help in the North East, particularly in Borno. The aftermath of the issue of insurgency which is almost over is the issue of hunger, poverty and malnutrition as a result of three years that our people who depend on subsistence farming did not go to their farms. Government alone cannot feed the whole of North East, though it is doing what it can. We are calling on NGOs, individuals and international community to help us,” he remarked.