The hierarchy of the Senate has placed a ‘shut up’ order on its members in apparent move to douse the outrage sparked by the exclusion of the N60 billion Lagos-Calabar Rail Line Project from the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget.
Information from a reliable source told us that the senators were warned during a closed door meeting to desist from commenting on the controversial claims that the project was yanked off from the 2016 budget by the joint Committee on Appropriation.
Some Senators who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were not disposed to speak on the issue, arguing that the Red Chamber was yet to gain a strong footing and was therefore not willing to engage the executive arm in any war of words.
The gag order is coming against the backdrop of reported seething anger in the camps of the South East, South-South lawmakers in the National Assembly angry over the decision to expunge the project.
Sources told Daily Sun that lawmakers from the two zones are angry that the project was not included in the version passed to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. They expressed displeasure at a meeting with some officials of the Budget and National Planning Ministry, it was gathered.
“Some chairmen of committees in the House told some ministers privately that they were not allowed to see the final version of the budget that was transmitted to President Buhari for assent.
“During the recess, they kept us here in Abuja and impressed it on us to work round the clock for the budget to be ready. We were shocked when the budget was transmitted without us seeing the details, particularly this critical project that will benefit our people,” one of the committee chairmen allegedly told a minister whose duties oversees the national budget.
Another source in one of the ministries said meetings between the National Assembly and the Executive were ongoing, “even though some of them will come to the meeting to say one thing and go outside to tell the public something else.”