By Gbenga Olarinoye
Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi representing Boripe/Ifelodun/Odo-Otin Federal Constituency of Osun State in the House of Representatives is the chairman, House Committee on Aid, Loan and Debt Management. A lawyer by profession, he was chairman of Boripe Local Government area of Osun State between 2002 and 2003. In this interview, he spoke on recent developments concerning the federal budget. Excepts:
Why did the National Assembly reject the president’s request to amend the budget?
What Mr. President presented to us was a letter, it wasn’t sufficient to constitute an amendment proposal or amendment clauses to the appropriation act, it would have required more from the President because we have special rules that govern money matters.
But it is alleged that your refusal was because Mr. President refused to approve funds for your constituency projects?
It is not correct. Mr. President presented a letter to us and not a supplementary budget and that explains why the letter written by Mr. President was given such treatment. Our action is based on what the law says concerning the appropriation act. To amend it is not just through a letter like Mr. President did, there are rules guiding this action and that is what we followed. But concerning the constituency projects, they are projects suggested by 469 elected members and representatives of people of Nigeria.
My party, the Action Congress of Nigeria frowns against the idea of constituency projects and we are indeed supposed to be championing an eradication of this so called constituency projects. Where governance is done the way it should be, the parliamentarian’s job is to take contributions from the nooks and crannies of the country, take them back to the executive in the process of budgeting to look at those various things.
It could be road, it could be health facility because I went through all these areas during my electioneering campaign but as a parliamentarian I would exceed my brief as it were if I went to people and promised that I would bring water to this place.
I will bring road here. I would do this, I would do that. If we follow the trend of majority of the members of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) during our electioneering campaign what we promised was robust and vibrant legislations. We did not promise roads, as it is not our job, it is not within our area of competence.
As lawmakers we don’t have executive power; all we have is persuasive power and from that robust legislative engagement, can come and attract federal presence in your constituency. What we are saying is that if you will not involve the parliamentarians in the process of budget making, and you just bring a document called the budget and since we have the right of appropriation, we have the right of yes or no.
You have prioritised your projects, but we as parliamentarians have the feeling and yearnings of the people. Let our contributions be the determinant of what should be the priority areas for the government. Let that be as afar as our contribution goes.
If I come and it is water that is the requirement of our people, let the Ministry of Water Resources build, if it is the road that is the need of my people, let the ministry of works handle it, if it is hospital that my people need, let ministry of health do it.
Don’t give me the contract; don’t call it constituency project for me, don’t label it constituency project, it is not constituency project, it is projects that belong to Nigerians; so it would be a misconception if we keep battling with the idea of constituency projects but because it is a way to call the dog a bad name, that is why the executive is saying that the parliamentarians always distort the budget. This is an unfair statement. This is not correct.