Senate defends Committees holding 2020 Budget in secret

The Senate on Thursday justified the closed session of the various Senate Standing Committees for the defence of the 2020 Budget proposal.
The lawmakers had on Wednesday started the process of scrutinising details of the 2020 Budget with most of the sessions held behind closed doors.
However, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Information, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, while fielding questions from newsmen, explained that it was not that the Committees wanted to conduct budget defence in secrecy, but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratifying them, adjusting them don’t necessarily have to be open to the media.
Adeyeye said: “I have said we shall liaise with relevant committees of the Senate to make sure that they allow proper coverage of their activities. 
“I just finished the 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 had nowhere to seat.
“It isn’t that they want to conduct budget defence in secrecy but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratifying 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 the camera? 
“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 to be done, the best thing is to release it to the public and I think that’s if fair enough.”
A number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies appeared before various Senate Committees on Wednesday.
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts welcomed the Auditor-General of the Federation whose office the lawmakers believed was poorly funded to effectively help Nigeria fight corruption in public spending.
But as soon as it was time to look into the 2020 Budget of the Office of the Auditor- General, journalists were asked to leave.
The same situation played out in the Committee on Power and as if planned, the pattern continued when the Committee on Ecology and Climate Change asked journalists to excuse it almost immediately after the opening remarks from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, who stood in for the Minister.
The Committee on Defence also asked the cameras to leave at some point.