OrderPaperToday – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has demanded committees of the parliament to offer proper oversight over Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government for full budget implementation.
Mr. Gbajabiamila made the demand at commencement of debates on the general principles of the N16.9 trillion 2022 budget proposal on Wednesday.
The speaker’s position is not unconnected with laxity associated with the work of some of the committees which had forced some withdrawal of duties hitherto assigned over failure to deliver.
Members had various inputs on the proposal during debate. Mr. Sergious Ogun (PDP, Edo) picked holes in the implementation of the budget and blamed non-compliance with provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, for the practice.
Acording to him, “nobody is satisfied with the budget implementation. The position of the fiscal responsibility act is to have a review of budget (performance) every three months but we only get to see this report (raising a document up which seems like a review of budget performance of MDAs) during budget debate or defense.
“We need to review the budget performance quarterly, are we really saying we are seeing changes in line with the yearly budget implementation?”, he questioned.
“This will help us to put the MDAs on alert so where they are doing well we commend and also give appropriate sanctions where they are not.”
Mr. Ogun was however interrupted by the Majority Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Dogowa (APC, Kano), who raised a point of order to the effect that the matter he (Ogun) was making reference to had nothing to do with the subject matter being deliberated on.
Collaborating the point of order, Speaker Gbajabiamila said to the Edo lawmaker, thus: “Do you realize that you are indicting the House Committees for not doing their job effectively, I therefore call on all Committees to wake up to their responsibilities and do the needful.”
He however sustained the point of order.
Agreeing with the Speaker’s call for intensive oversight on MDAs, Minority Leader of the House Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) said the onus was on the lawmakers to do their jobs thoroughly.
“The onus is on the committees; although there are complaints here are there that even though some agencies have received funds to enable them implement the budget but they are not doing so. It beholds on us (both chambers) if we agree not to attend to such agencies of government that have failed in performance. That is failure to implement the budget even after being given funds. The act is the reason why most of our teeming youths have remained unemployed.”
In his contributions, Mr. Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom) raised concerns over the rising debt profile of the country. “The first concern is the sum of N3.9 trillion for debt servicing which represents almost 25 percent of the whole budget. This is worrisome and raises some issues and concern. I believe FG should look at it and tinker with it,” he said, adding:
“Another source of concern is that the proposal before us has a deficit of N6.2 trillion and government is proposing new borrowings to finance this deficit. What this implies is that then total public debt of Nigeria is expected to rise to N5 trillion in 2022 fiscal year. This is worrisome not only for today but generations unborn and the future of Nigeria.
“Let us do what we can to try to reduce the deficit and how we can reduce borrowing. Now to the next point on the issue is borrowing. There is nothing wrong with borrowing provided we borrow and put it for production not for consumption. So as we begin to look at it let us take the future generations of Nigeria into consideration while we get to borrow and make sure the borrowing are being put into productive ventures.
“While we put the money borrowed to infrastructure three clear things come to mind. We have looked at security. We need to invest in power. Let us borrow to invest in power and roads. We have road challenges across the country. Let me use, for instance Mr. Speaker, The Calabar-Itu road- that area is being cut off. People spend 8 hours on that road. And we have seen something less than a billion naira allotted to that road in the different lots that have been given. That is quite inadequate. We have to invest in our road and in our public transportation.
“We are talking about recoveries of loot and misappropriated funds, if we apply these it can help in reducing our deficits and borrowing. I do not know whether these loots are still in the stomach of snakes or rats or animals. But if we apply these loots it would be able to better our country.”