December 1, 2023

2024 Budget: Reps seek more funding for transportation, health, education

Reps probe use of N200bn on suspended 2023 census

The House of Representatives continued its debate on the 2024 appropriation bill on Friday in Abuja, with some lawmakers demanding increased funding for transportation, health, and education.

Rep. Fredrick Agbedi (PDP-Bayelsa) said that in the area of transportation, the people from the riverine areas were the most neglected, saying that no reference was made to the suffering of the people of the area.

“We appeared to be a people not considered in the 2024 appropriation bill; the Federal Government must attend to this.

“If the people who need our help can be connected by rail, it will solve our problem,” he said.

He said anytime the issue of transportation was being discussed, the people in the riverine areas were always left out.

Agbedi said most federal roads in the three senatorial districts in Bayelsa, were being constructed by the state governments, adding that this alone made them feel neglected.

Rep. Ginger Owusibe (LP-Abia) said the title of the 2024 budget, “Renewed Hope,” emphasised the importance of the budget to the country.

He said that considering the UNESCO 26 per cent recommendation for education, the 2024 appropriation did not meet the standard, adding that this should be looked into to achieve success.

The lawmaker said the budget for the health sector was not enough considering the experience of COVID-19 in 2020, adding that there should be adequate provision for the sector to tackle any emergency.

He said that all geopolitical zones must be treated equally in the area of project distribution, adding that the South East region had been treated unfairly.

“We in the South East cannot continue to be marginalised; there is a Federal Road in Abia; the South East should be considered for the allocation of more resources,” he said.

He said this move would help to assuage the feelings of the people of the region about the real impact of governance.

Rep. Domini Okafor (APGA-Anambra), on his part, said the theme of the budget could not have come at a better time when the hope of Nigerians needed to be renewed.

He said that many Nigerians do not want to pay tax, but if this budget is effectively implemented, it will regain their confidence.

Okafor said many of his constituents have graduated without jobs, urging the federal government to redouble its efforts at bringing out the best in the private sector to help the citizenry.

Rep. Cyril Godwin (PDP-Rivers) said that the renewed hope agenda would be a reality if members took their oversight duties seriously.

He said that in the past 10 years, multinational oil companies have refused to carry out critical interventions in the country.

According to him, “we need critical investment to be able to meet our target; the major loss is the lack of investment. We need oil revenue to go into other sectors, particularly agriculture.

Rep. Ahmed Muniru (PDP-Kaduna) said the N27.5 trillion proposed was not the issue, adding that the judicious use of the money that would ensure it touched every sector remained the problem.

“If we cannot have good roads, transportation, and good health, our woes will be on the rise, and if we cannot checkmate corruption, it will not augur well,” he said.

He said it was not the budget in itself that was important, but the implementation of the budget.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2024 appropriation bill has passed a second reading and the House has adjourned until December 12.

This is to enable the various committees to commence budget defence with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) (NAN).