Members of the National Assembly have denied padding 2018 budget, saying that it is unconstitutional for President Mohamed Buhari to expect wholesale endorsement of all proposal the executive presents to the parliament.
President Buhari while signing the Appropriation Bill into law, yesterday, had accused the legislators of padding the budget.
However, a ranking member of the upper chamber, Na’Allah said he was not worried by the president’s concerns on the budget.
“The job of parliamentarians is a very difficult one. The way the budget came, if we had allowed it to go that way, we would have been in trouble with those who elected us. You have to balance between the six geopolitical zones.”
In its reaction, the House of Representatives said the alteration was done in the exercise of its constitutional powers.
In a statement by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrasak Namdas, the House said the additional projects were aimed at meeting the needs of the people.
“The legislature is not expected to be a rubber-stamp by simply approving the Executive proposals and returning the budget to Mr. President. Therefore, the additions Mr. President complained of in his speech are justifiable.”
“… We have to remind Mr. President that we are representatives of our people and wish to state that even the common man deserves a mention in the budget by including projects that will directly affect his life positively. Some of the projects designed by the executive, as high-sounding as their names suggest, do not meet the needs of the common man,” he said.
On the budget of the National Assembly, Namdas explained: “Before 2015, the budget of the National Assembly was N150 billion for several years. It was cut down to N120 billion in 2015 and further down to N115 billion in 2016. In 2017, the budget was N125 billion and N139.5 billion in 2018. This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the N150 billion in the years before 2015.”
Also reacting, Doguwa defended the alterations, saying, “certainly, you wouldn’t expect us to just rubber stamp and just bring it back. We have to do the nitty-gritty of budget consideration. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well and we have done what we think is the right thing to do to deliver on the expectations and the mandate bestowed on us by the people of our constituencies.”
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