The senate began debate on the 2018 budget today on a charged note, with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, describing the document as “totally fictitious”, withdrawing the word, “fictitious” and replacing it with “imaginary”
According to Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, the proposed N8.6 trillion appropriation bill could not be described as a budget of consolidation because “nothing was done” in 2017.
He said the assumptions of the budget are “totally wrong and off the mark” and is “dead on arrival”.
His words: “I’m just quoting the senate leader in his speech – ‘the 2018 budget is designed to consolidate on the achievements of the 2016 and 2017 budget.’
“What was done in 2017 when less than 15 percent of that budget was released? Nothing was done. That was why I said the 2018 budget is fictitious. If that is the word that the
“Senate leader is bothered about, I withdraw the word ‘fictitious’ and say that the 2018 budget is totally imaginary. Because nothing was done in 2017. That is a fact that we all know.
“In the leader’s speech, he said that there was so much money that was received in 2017 and therefore, there is an estimate of N11 trillion to be gotten. But we know that as at last week, the total receivables that this government is got was one-tenth of what was stated publicly.
“In what sense will the 2018 budget be predicated on an assumption that the facts have already destroyed? You are assuming 11 trillion, yet, getting one trillion. That is why I said that the 2018 budget is imaginary.
“Rather than debate this 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. The assumptions are totally wrong and off the mark. Therefore, the 2018 budget is already dead on arrival.”
On his part, Ahmed Lawan, senate leader, said the word “fictitious” was unparliamentary.
“To call a document presented to this house as totally fictitious is unparliamentary,” Lawan said.
“I raised this point of order with the understanding that my brother, friend and colleague would see reason to withdraw this word (fictitious) and use anything that is parliamentary acceptable.”
Speaking in the same vein as Abaribe, Ben Murray-Bruce, senator representing Bayelsa east, labelled the budget an “active imagination”.
He said: “I want to describe the budget as active imagination. Some agencies are so bloated it defies logic. The only way is to reduce the cost of governance.”
The senate has adjourned debate on the budget to Wednesday.