President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday barred all ministers and heads of federal agencies from travelling abroad pending their defence of the 2020 budget before the National Assembly. A statement issued in Abuja by Willie Bassey, Director Information, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the order was with immediate effect.
“The suspension of such travels will enable functionaries and agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Appropriation Bill,” the statement said.
It however said that ministers who had already secured approval to travel “are by this directive, required to revalidate such approvals with Mr. President after confirming the schedule of appearances with the relevant committees of the National Assembly. Furthermore, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their schedules of budget defence.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari has promised to go the extra mile to further the cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government. Buhari made the pledge on Friday at the unveiling of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House of Representatives in Abuja. Represented by the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, Buhari said that he was ready to do all it takes to sustain the relationship for the benefit of all Nigerians.
The president said that the agenda was well thought and out together to benefit the country. He charged the lawmakers to make laws that would protect Nigerians, enhance international relationships and boost the economy. Buhari assured the house that all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will appear before the various committees for budget defence; saying anything short of that, will be undermining the National Assembly and by extension, the Nigerian people.
The President’s assurance came after Senate President, Ahmed Lawan announced that only the October window will be available for the heads of MDAs to defend their various budgets, warning that any MDA that fails to utilize the window with not have another chance to do so and will not have a budget for its 2020 operations. According to Lawan, those heads of MDAs who want to travel abroad without defending their budget can do so but there will not be a second chance to defend budget after October.