With Akpabio’s Influence, Senate Grants Tinubu Power To Implement 2023 Budget For Two Years As Reps Kick

Senate President Godswill Akpabio on Thursday saw through the upper house’s passage of the 2023 Supplementary Appropriations Act, granting President Bola Tinubu the power to operate the budget for two years.

Akpabio is well known for subsuming the red chamber under the executive since emerging as Senate President in 2023.

He has been accused of making it a point of duty to run to the presidential villa to take orders from the president and sell the directive to his colleagues through a closed-door session after which the president’s requests are granted.

The former Akwa Ibom State governor ensured all the president’s ministerial nominees were screened despite allegations of financial improprieties, inefficiencies in previous offices, and perjury among others against some of the nominees except individuals that the presidency later kicked against their nomination.

Some senators have accused him of working with them to pass or grant all requests from the president but none has the power to oppose him as they are often met with suspension.

Consequently, Akpabio’s Senate tacitly granted the request on Thursday despite protest in the House of Representatives on the same day against the president’s request for an extension.

As he presided over the Senate, the appropriation bills were read for the first, second and third time and supported by a majority of its members.

With the passage, it has been extended to December 31, 2023.

It also extended the implementation of the N2.17 trillion 2023 supplementary budget to December.

This follows the request of President Bola Tinubu for the extension of the implementation of both budgets.

Akpabio’s Senate had extended the implementation of the 2023 budget and its components in March making it the second time it did so under the administration of Tinubu.

Curiously, the house spends scant time considering the bills and often embarks on accelerated passage.

During the first extension, the upper chamber extended the implementation of the capital component of the 2023 budget and implementation of the N2.17 trillion 2023 supplementary budget to June.

The extension means the Tinubu government is implementing two budgets – the 2023 and 2024 appropriation Acts, respectively.

Tinubu’s political associate, Opeyemi Bamidele, who’s the Senate Leader, led the debate on the extension of the budget during the plenary.

He argued that “This Bill, therefore, intends to further extend the implementation period of the Acts to 31st December, 202,4 given the strategic importance of some key projects nearing completion and to allow for continued implementation for the maximum benefit of the country.

“Undoubtedly, this would go a long way to avoid the compounding problems of abandoned projects. Hence, the need for the enactment of this proposed legislation to extend the implementation,” Mr Bamidele said.

Senator Opeyemi urged his colleagues to “give their full support to these bills to allow for full utilisation of the capital releases to help reflate the economy”.

The Minority Leader, Abba Moro, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supported the extension.

Moro noted that there is a need for an extension of the budget.

Also, Senate Chief Whip Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) and Orji Kalu (APC, Abia North) supported the extension and spoke during the plenary.

However, Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) kicked against the extension, arguing that the budgets should not be extended continuously.

But Akpabio overruled one of his fierce critics, who just returned from suspension, explaining “Implementation is left to the executive, and oversight is left for the legislative,” Mr Akpabio added.

However, while the upper house pandered to Akpabio’s overarching influence, the lower house protested and descended into a rowdy session against the request.

The strong protest lasted for almost an hour and polarised the house forcing it to go into a closed-door session.

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