THE Senate, on Wednesday, inaugurated a six-man Conference Committee for the harmonisation of the oil benchmark for the 2014 budget.
President Goodluck Jonathan blamed his failure to come to the National Assembly on Tuesday to present the budget on the discordant tunes between the two chambers over the appropriate oil benchmark to be used for the budget.
While the Senate settled for $76.5 per barrel, the House of Representatives had insisted on $79 per barrel as the benchmark for the 2014 budget.
The committee, headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, is expected to sit with the committee to be set up by the House of Representatives to decide an acceptable benchmark for crude oil in the 2014 fiscal year.
Other members of the Senate Committee include Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Ita Enang, Smart Adeyemi, Ayo Akinyelure and Bello Tukur.
It is expected that an early completion of the committee’s task would facilitate the passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP), the constitutional requirement for the presentation of 2014 budget proposal to the National Assembly by the president.
Meanwhile, the Senate has called on Federal Government to immortalise former Chief of General Staff, the late Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe, who died on October 20, at the age of 68.
This was as it also resolved to send a high-powered delegation, to be led by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Chris Anyanwu, to condole with the family, government and the people of Edo State.
This was sequel to a motion, on Wednesday, by Senators Domingo Obende, Ehigie Uzamere and Odion Ugbesia on the demise of Akhigbe.
Senate President David Mark described the late Akhigbe as a fealess officer, gentleman and patriot who was always disturbed by issues affecting the country.
“For those of you who know him personally, Akhigbe was an officer and a gentleman because all through his military career, he always had this disposition of being very benevolent, understanding, attentive and he could listen for a very long time.
“When eventually we all graduated, we did so many things together; good things and bad things but more of the good things than the bad things.
“Some of them are legacies that he has left behind but the most important thing about Akhigbe is that once he gives you his words, you can go to sleep.
“When we were hound men in the Nigerian Defence Academy, I gave him the name, ‘NNS Fearless’ because he was coming from a purely civilian background into the Defence Academy.
“But he did so many things that surprised those of us who had little military background coming as youngsters from the Nigerian Military School in Zaria and that name remained with him until the day he died.
“Admiral Akhigbe was a patriot in the true sense of the word. All through his life, things that affected the nation worried him so much”, he said.
The Senate, in another motion, also paid tributes to a Second Republic politician, the late Senator Tari Sekibo, who passed away on Monday.
The late senator won an election in 1983 to represent Bori/Bonny Senatorial District in Rivers State.
Prior to his election as a senator, he had also served as the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum and Energy Resources, from 1979 to 1983.
The Senate accordingly observed the traditional one-minute silence in honour of both Akhigbe and Sekibo.