Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday saved the request by the executive for virement of N135 billion from the 2017 budget to execute certain priority projects.

When the request for virement came up for consideration at plenary, many of the senators kicked against it, describing the request as “unconstitutional”.

However, Saraki pleaded with his colleagues and eventually succeeded in getting the request to be referred to the committee on appropriation.

It is the process of moving money from one financial account or part of a budget to a different one. It is an administrative transfer of budgetary funds.

Although Saraki acknowledged some of the arguments of his colleagues that certain level of commitment in budget implementation must first be shown before a request for virement, he, however, appealed for more support for the executive.

“Before virement could be considered, senate should have seen a more significant level of implementation, but this is in line with senate’s commitment to give support to the executive as much as possible within the law,” he said.

He assured the senators that he had taken note of their fears, saying he would keep that in mind during the process of considering the request.

Speaking earlier, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the senate, described the request for virement as unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Ekweremadu argued that if the government wanted to complete some of its priority projects, it should present a supplementary budget and not deny other sectors of projects already approved.

He said the executive should either send a supplementary budget or wait till the next financial year to send a fresh budget.

“Virement is unconstitutional. We must uphold the constitution. When reforming the budget, we should take note of this,” he said.

“You can only spend money either through normal budget or through a supplementary budget.