…Says Spending Will Reflect Realities in the Country
By Tordue Salem
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila on Thursday promised that the Green Chamber will begin debate on the 2021 Appropriations Bill on Tuesday next week.
The Speaker said this shortly after the presentation in a joint-session of the 2021 budget proposal, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The House of Representatives will commence deliberations on the 2021 Appropriations Bill on Tuesday next week.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, made the announcement shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari, presented his Fiscal Plan for the year 2021 before the National Assembly.
“We will reconvene on Tuesday and Wednesday for budget defence. The day for debate on the PIB(Petroleum Industry Bill), will be announced on that day(Tuesday)”, the Speaker said.
Earlier, he said “We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment.
“We kept that promise too. We recognise that more needs to be done, and I assure all the Nigerian people that we will continue in this regard”.
He said further that: ” On behalf of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I extend sincere appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR for coming to the House today for this purpose, in fulfilment of the obligations of his office.
“When just over a year ago, we gathered in this chamber to receive the budget proposal and begin the appropriation process, we made specific commitments to the Nigerian people. We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.
“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process”.
Gbajabiamila noted that “Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning, to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.
“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.
“Let me also use this opportunity to announce a new protocol in the House. Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.
“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.
“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the Covid-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any point in time.
“The world changes quickly, often without notice, and always with consequences. We have learned this lesson at a high cost in the past few months, and we must ensure that the lessons learned are reflected in the budget that emerges from the appropriations process.
“We must make sure that we are better prepared for next time because there will be the next time.
“The reality of globalisation and the connected interdependence of nations means that there will always be something on the horizon that threatens to destabilise our world. Let us move forward in this certainty and make sure that we are prepared for the future, whatever it may bring.
“We will collaborate with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Executive to deliver a budget that meets the needs and matches the ambitions of the Nigerian people.
“And we will hold ourselves in the legislature to the highest standards of integrity so that our deliberations and contributions to this process are motivated only by considerations of the best interests of the Nigerian people”.
Reacting to the president’s speech, the House spokesperson, Rep. Benjamin Kalu ( APC-Abia) said the National Assembly, was committed to sustaining the January- December budget cycle.
He said “As a house, we are happy that the executive sent in the MTEF in time. Today, they have passed the ball to our court and if we delay the budget, it will be out fault. Our promise remains in maintaining the budget cycles.
“We are promising Nigerians that we are suspending plenary to consider the budget. We are not suspending consideration of PIB as being reported in some sections of the media.
“We are dedicating Tuesday, Wednesday as days to commence debate of the budget. We hope to have copies of the budget details before then.
“We need to also consult with our constituents and we want to make a law that will meet the desires and needs of Nigerians. It is not going to be garbage in garbage put. It is not going to be rushed, but we hope to have a thorough consideration of the budget”.