Reps send journalists out as CBN defends N1.3trn budget estimates

•As probe of Hon Chinda, others on House Minority leadership held behind closed doors

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon Victor Nwokolo on Wednesday barred journalists from covering the N1.3 trillion budget defence of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proposed for 2020 fiscal year.

Hon Nwokolo who presided over the budget defence, beckoned on the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele’s representative, Mr Adamu Edward Lametek to give a breakdown of the 2019 budget before going into the presentation of the N1.3 trillion in the 2020 budget estimates.

The chairman who had earlier called for coverage of the proceedings, however within a twinkle of an eye, directed all the management staff, journalists and other supporting staff to excuse them before going on with the budget defence.

Recall that one of the concerned members of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gudaji Kazure had during a press briefing held last week Thursday queried the N1.3 trillion proposed by the apex bank, which he described as outrageous and alarming.

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The lawmaker who harped on the need for downward review of the proposed budget in the nation’s interest, also frowned at the apex bank’s disregarding for the House resolution over the implementation of the money deposit and withdrawal charges by banks, after the House advised that the policy should be suspended.

According to him, “In 2019, budget of the CBN was N420 billion, but the same CBN brought a budget of N1.3 trillion for 2020. What are they producing? Which revenue are they generating?”.

He said he would persuade the House to ask his colleagues in the appropriation committee to bring down budget of the CBN to N300 million, while the balance of one trillion naira is distributed to health, education and the federal government’s N-Power social intervention programme.

In a related development, the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges chaired by Hon. Kolawole Lawal, barred accredited National Assembly Journalists from covering investigative hearing on alleged infractions of Standing House Rules by four Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members.

Hon. Lawal after the commencement of the proceedings said “we don’t want journalists to cover us.”

Recall that the Committee via a letter dated 14th November 2019, signed by the Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Hamisu Ibrahim requested that Hon. Kingsley Chinda, Hon. Muraina Ajibola, Hon. Chukwuma Onyema and Hon. Yakubu Barde alleged to have impersonated Minority Principal Officers.