NASS TAMPERING WITH BUDGET IS SABOTAGE, IMPUNITY - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

NASS TAMPERING WITH BUDGET IS SABOTAGE, IMPUNITY



SARAKI
The National Assembly (NASS) reportedly reduced money allocated to some key projects and reallocated the money to their own constituency projects. 


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns this development in strong terms. It amounts to sabotage and an act of impunity. It is outrageous. It is legislative terrorism.

We note in particular that although the budget was presented as far back as December 14, 2016, NASS did not approve it until May 11, 2017 (six months later). The budget of year 2000 was approved on January 20, 2000. That of 2001 was approved in November 2000 while 2004 budget was approved in November 2003. In 2013, the budget was approved on November 20 of the previous year.

The six month delay in the 2017 budget is therefore curious. Such procrastination further cements the suspicion in the minds of Nigerians that the NASS is out to frustrate the good efforts of the present administration to make life more abundant for the jamaheer (masses). It tantamounts to armtwisting the executive.  We recall the hostile disposition of the NASS to the interests of the executive since the inception of this administration. Nominees were rejected without tangible casus belli. Nerves were frayed. It has been a cat and mouse game ab initio to date.    

While we are not opposed to the idea of members of the NASS pursuing their constituency projects, we find it disturbing that they will go as far as reducing money allocated to key projects to meet this objective. It should be the other way round if indeed members of the NASS have the interest of Nigeria at heart.

It beats us hollow to find lawmakers tampering with a project of momentous national significance like the Lagos-Ibadan expressway knowing fully well that this is the only and most important link road between the South West, the South East and the North. It is shocking, unbelievable and nauseating.

Equally unnerving is the reduction of money allocated to Bodo-Bonny road and Kano-Maiduguri road. Considering the fact that these projects had suffered long neglect by previous administration, we wonder if the NASS wants this administration to perform at all. NASS seems more interested in portraying the Federal Government as indolent as the immediate past administration.

By the way, isn’t the insertion of items not under the exclusive or concurrent list interesting afterthoughts? Ministers defended all the items listed under their ministries, who defends items inserted by members of the NASS? Is it a committee of the NASS? How transparent is such a process? Does it not look like rub my back I rub your back? How truly accountable can that be? These insertions are very suspicious.

It is our considered opinion that NASS should make its constituency projects or any such items public even before budget presentation so that it would have been known to the executive as well as the general public. Every member of the NASS who has a constituency project should also defend it before a neutral committee set up by the NASS but made up of credible public figures.

Before rounding up, MURIC charges members of the civil society to show keen interest in NASS’s constituency projects, particularly the items inserted in the 2017 budget with a view to monitoring them and holding the authors accountable at the appropriate time.

Professor Ishaq Akintola, is the Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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