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Senate Committees Shut Out Media as MDAs Defend Budgets

The Senate on Thursday defended its committees’ decision to shut out the media from covering the budget defence session it is currently holding with the ministries, agencies and departments of the Federal Government, Punch reports.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye,  justified the action of his colleagues during an interactive session with journalists.

The Senate panels had on Wednesday, started the process of scrutinising details of the 2020 budgets of the MDAs, with most of the sessions held behind closed doors, contrary to the usual practice.

Adeyeye said the Senate would not deny journalists the necessary information the public needed to know about the budgets of the MDAs.

He said the committees’ decision to shut out the media was actually to avoid unnecessary distractions.

He explained that the various committees would still brief the journalists after the budget defence sessions.

He said, “On secret meetings with MDAs, I have said that we shall liaise with relevant committees of the Senate to make sure that they allow proper coverage of their activities.

“I just finished a meeting of another committee on budget defence and honestly we held that meeting but the venue couldn’t accommodate all of us, even a lot of the staff have nowhere to seat.

“It isn’t that they want to conduct budget defence in secrecy but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratify them, adjusting them don’t necessarily have to be open to the media.

“What I am saying is that there is no secrecy but they need to do serious work.

“If I want to write a paper now, I want to do serious intellectual work, will I be doing it in the full glare of camera? No!

“I want us to believe that it is a serious matter. We want to discuss the issues seriously, genuinely, factually.

“The press can be called in but sometimes the Committee needs their privacies to do their jobs.

“They can at the end of the day call the press to say, “this is what we have done.” If they can do their job without the searchlight of the cameras, they can get the job done.

“This is what they have done, it isn’t secrecy. Do you want the Committees to do everything in your presence? I don’t think it is proper.

“Were you there when the Executive was preparing the budget, but the president came here to present it.

“The budget defence can be done behind closed door but then whatever has be done, the best thing is to release it to the public and  I think that’s if fair enough.”

He assured the media that his committee would liaise with the other Senate Committee to make their findings available to the public.

Adeyeye said, “There is nothing secret about this thing, they are looking at it item by item they couldn’t have released it to the press.

“I am going to pass information to chairmen of the various committees to do the same on their report.

“They can’t be waiting for the press, or invite you for all these things. We will encourage them to brief you on whatever have been done— there is no secrecy there, the budget has been prepared, the documents have been submitted to all senators and we are looking at them, item by item.

“When we meet with the MDAs, we queried them on some of the items, do you want us to ask such questions in the presence of the press?

“It is like you are marking somebody’s script in an exam and you are announcing it! There is no need for that because at the end of the day, the results will be released.”

President Muhammadu Buhari submitted the budget of N10.3tn to a Joint Session of the National Assembly two weeks ago.


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Copyright 2019 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant source.

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