President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered ministers and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to appear before the National Assembly to defend their proposed 2018 budget estimates.
The order was given at the end of a meeting the president had with the leadership of the National Assembly led by Senate President Bukola Saraki at the President Villa Thursday night.
The meeting which started at about 9:10 p.m. ended at 10:36 p.m. It took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said it was held in order to continue to build on the harmonious relationship that exists between the two arms of government.
“The president gave them update on security, economy, job creation, processes in the National Assembly especially with regards to the budget and need to conclude on time and Mr. President has given instruction that all ministers and heads of parastatals should ensure that they appear before the National Assembly to defend their submissions so that we can get this out of the way.
“You know this is a very dynamic year and there are preparation for elections and we are having quite a lot of security challenges and so if we don’t appropriate, where will the money come from?” Mr. Mustapha said.
Thursday’s meeting finally held after it was called off about three times.
Mr. Saraki, who also spoke with reporters, said the meeting could not hold on the three occasions due to “logistics reasons”.
He said the leadership of the National Assembly used the opportunity of the meeting to give Mr. Buhari their opinion on the “ budget, security and other issues”.
Mr. Saraki said although the legislature was working on the 2018 budget, some agencies were yet to defend their budgets.
“We are hoping that with the speed up now, they will come and defend their budget,” he said.
Those who attended the meeting from the National Assembly include Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, and House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila.
Others are senators Sola Adeyeye and Philip Aduda; House Chief Whip, Al-Hassan Dogowa; and Deputy Whip Pally Iriase, among others.
However, while all principal officers from the platform of the governing All Progressives Congress were present, only Mr. Aduda came from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Those absent were Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, his deputy, Emmanuel Bwacha, and Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi.
Those who attended the meeting from the executive arm include Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina; the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu; as well as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang.