By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday said that the parliament passed 2021 in good time to ensure the country maintains the January to December budget cycle started last year.
Speaker’s submission was contained in his remarks shortly after the passage of the 2021 Budget on Monday.
He also commended the lawmakers for their efforts and due diligence.
He said: “Over the last two months, we have been occupied primarily with our efforts to complete our work on the 2021 Appropriation Bill in time to ensure the budget becomes law before the end of this year. We have worked with the Federal Government’s ministries, departments, and agencies to set priorities.
“We reached out to stakeholders and citizen groups. We liaised with constituents to understand their expectations and reflect those expectations in our consideration of the Appropriation Bill.
“I am glad to report that these efforts have been worthwhile. Today, we have passed the budget in the House of Representatives in good time to maintain the January to December budget cycle in line with the commitments we made when we resumed office.
“The January to December budget cycle is necessary to ensure effective implementation of our annual budgets to meet our nation’s development challenges. By our joint efforts and the grace of God, we will maintain this standard for every year we are in office, and leave a legacy for our successors to aspire to.
“Honourable colleagues, I thank you all for your service this year in the House of Representatives. Our work is not nearly done. I urge you to use this recess opportunity to each give account of your service to the people whose hopes and dreams you represent in this honourable chamber.
“I encourage you to subject yourselves to their judgment and criticism. Accept their observations and encouragements so that when we return, we will work hard, work well, and work together to achieve the common goals of a peaceful nation, united in our shared prosperity”.
The speaker noted that 2020 was such a turbulent one with the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic.
“When we resumed in January of this year, the coronavirus was a novel development, still confined for the most part to China. We did not know that our economy will be upended in a few months, and our lives disrupted by a pandemic we did not anticipate and were not prepared for.
“We did not foresee a world where citizens would be confined to their homes for months, unable to earn a living, denied the freedom to live full lives in the company of friends and colleagues, family and loved ones. Yet when the moment came, we did not shrink from it.
“Within the limits of our brutal realities, with our options limited by a scarcity of resources, by dilapidated infrastructure and outdated laws, we acted to slow the spread of disease, to treat the sick, comfort the afflicted and provide for the most vulnerable of our nation’s citizens.
“The truth is, we have done better than many believed was possible, better than many nations, even the most advanced. Our economy has taken a big hit, but through a partnership with the private sector, the government has been able to prevent the nightmare scenarios that some predicted.
“Members of the House, together and individually, made financial contributions to support welfare provisions for citizens. There is virtually no constituency in the country that did not feel the impact of efforts by their representatives. I commend you all, and I thank you most sincerely.
“This year we have seen that the structural inadequacies of our economy and healthcare systems, our internal security and justice architecture, have left us dangerously exposed to the risk of a complete and irreversible loss of faith in the Nigerian project by a large section of our citizenry.
“Despite spirited government efforts, our economy is still overly reliant on the sale of crude oil. Vast swathes of potential in tourism and agriculture, manufacturing and technology, media and entertainment remain untapped due to insecurity, infrastructure deficits, policy and regulatory inconsistency”, Gbajabiamila said.