Budget Delay: Blame Self, Not NASS, Dogara Tells Buhari
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari should blame himself and not the National Assembly for the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget which was signed into law, last Monday.
Dogara said since Buhari assumed office, he “has been unable to present budget on time. His first budget was the 2016 budget, which was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the fiscal year.”
He also said: “The minimum time the National Assembly requires to pass budget is three months. But he presented it just nine days to 2016” and that “what Nigerians didn’t know and the President won’t say is that the Executive through the various ministries continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt the letters are there with the dates they were written and received. But here’s Buhari blaming the National Assembly.”
Dogara, in a statement, yesterday, lamented that: “President Muhammadu Buhari a few days ago, in his usual characteristics of self righteousness, and buck passing, blamed tardiness in the passage of budgets by the National Assembly for the delay in the completion of projects across the country by his government.
“To be precise, the president said, ‘If the National Assembly takes seven months to pass a budget, then we should be commended for the much that we have achieved, and can still achieve. I personally feel very disappointed. I spoke with the leaders of the National Assembly on the issue that seven months is a long time to work on a budget’.
“Even though buck passing and blame game is not new to Buhari as it is now his stock in trade; in the past few days and weeks, there was no day that passed without the President blaming others in a desperate move to exonerate himself from any blame or failure of the Executive under his leadership to execute projects across the country.
“In fact, very recently, Buhari blamed all his predecessors for failing to build infrastructure. And I wonder why? It was the general consensus that the former employees didn’t perform as expected and that was why Nigerians hired him for a job he has sought for four conservative time but here he is blaming the same people he replaced. If you are the boss of ‘Nigeria limited’, what will you do this employee?
“Some weeks ago, he even blamed the media for failing to showcase his achievements.
“However, it is disingenuous for President Muhammad Buhari to blame the National Assembly for his government’s inability to implement budget and execute projects that affect the lives of Nigerians in the last three years.
“To set the record straight, this is a President who, from inception of his government didn’t show any sign that he was well prepared and ready for the job he sought for four times in 16 years and for which we voted for him.
“For instance, it took him six months, yes six months not six weeks to form his cabinet. It also took him two years to appoint board chairmen for most government agencies. This is was his greatest undoing and was principally responsible for plunging Nigeria into recession because activities in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government were brought to a half for the period since civil servants could not take decisions due to absence of political heads in a country where public sector spending drives the economy.
“At a point, he even said he was happy working with civil servants because ministers or politicians were noise makers because ‘they are only there to make a lot of noises’, he told a French television station in September, 2015.
“Now, after three years, with election in three months, the President is at it again, exonerating himself from apparent failure of his government thereby throwing the blame right at the doorstep of the legislature. But facts don’t lie and they could be stubborn and here are the facts”.
On late budget presentation, Dogara said, “Since his assuming office, the president has been unable to present budget on time. His first budget was the 2016 budget which was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the fiscal year.
“The minimum the National Assembly requires to pass budget is three months. But he presented it just nine days to 2016.
“Again, the 2017 budget was presented on December 14, 2016, just 17 days to the end of 2016.
“The earliest he presented budget was on November 7, 2017 which was the 2018 appropriations bill. It was less than two months to the end of the year.
“However, his ministers refused to appear before National Assembly committees to defend the budget for five months thereby delaying the passage.
“It was after the leadership of the National Assembly sought the President’s intervention on March 16, 2018 that the ministers reluctantly appeared before the committees, an exercise that takes at least one month to complete.
“In fact, some of them who felt they were super ministers sent in their permanent secretaries.
“What Nigerians didn’t know and the President won’t say is that the Executive through the various ministries continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt the letters are there with the dates they were written and received. But here’s Buhari blaming the National Assembly”.
On violation of Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, Dogara said, “Since the inception of the Buhari administration, it has been in constant violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which stipulates that budgets should be presented in early September. The wisdom or import of the FRA is that the National Assembly will have at least three full months to work on the budget bill.
“In fact, the Executive admitted its failure and inability to abide by the law on August 24, 2018 when former minister of Budget and National Planning, now Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed disclosed that the Federal Government will present the 2019 budget in September in a bid to restore the budget circle from January to December but here we are in November without the budget estimates before the lawmakers”.
On Buhari’s failure/refusal to assent to budget submitted to him, Dogara said, “In a bid to address the issue of late budget presentation and passage, the National Assembly passed a Constitutional Amendment Bill that requires the President to submit the Appropriation Bill not later than 90 days to the end of the financial year but unfortunately, very unfortunately, the president has vetoed the bill.
“In an effort to improve institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass budget expeditiously, the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill was passed into law. It was loosely modelled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Again, President Buhari has also vetoed the Bill”.
On lack of adequate consultation, Dogara said, “Under a Presidential system of government like ours where the doctrine of separation of powers and principles of checks and balances are well enshrined in our Constitution, wisdom presupposes that the Executive at all time engages the legislature on all issues that requires legislation in order to have their buy in even before it is presented to the parliament formally.
“The three Presidents before Buhari, from 1999 -2015, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodkuck Jonathan despite their failings sustained this tradition which is necessary for harmonious relations between the Executive and the Legislature and smooth running of government. Under this, it is expected that the President meet with the leadership of the two chambers (Body of Principal Officers including members of the opposition) and brief them on the details of the budget and key projects he would want to execute.
“They, in turn would brief their colleagues while the MDAs will then engage the committees over sighting them in pre-budget session. President Shehu Shagari used to hold such meetings monthly.
“Doing this, would have helped in reducing the time it takes to pass the budget because even before it is presented, the MPs would have been well informed about it and their inputs taken into consideration at the preparation stage by the various MDAs. Unfortunately, this too has not been done in the last three years”.
Doraga also said that, “The National Assembly has repeatedly challenged the Executive to approach the Supreme Court to seek interpretation on the constitutional powers of the legislature over budget, but up to now, they have failed to do so. Until then, the judgement of the Federal High court in FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, which was not appealed by either parties stands.
“This is what his lordship Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole said in delivering judgment in the suit by Femi Falana SAN ‘the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament. The whole essence of the budget estimates being required to be laid before Parliament is to enable it, being the Assembly of the representatives of the people, to debate the said budget proposals and to make its own well informed legislative inputs into it”, he added.
Meanwhile, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take responsibility for what he termed a “colossal failure” to make any positive impact in the last four years.
Frank said the President should not blame his alleged incompetence on the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
In a statement, yesterday, the former APC spokesperson wondered why Buhari chose to “lie during the Holy month of Ramadan”.
He called on Buhari to stop his blame-game, face reality for once and apologise to Nigerians for leading a calamitous regime of pain and penury.
According to Frank, “Blame your lethargy, flip-flops and incompetence for your failure, not Saraki and Dogara.
“It is you the people elected as President to exercise executive powers and not Saraki and Dogara whose duties are to supervise the passage of legislation.
“Any leader who completely abdicates responsibility for his action or inaction cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to be a good leader. If at the twilight of a four-year tenure Mr. President is shopping for new scapegoats, At what point would he realize that it was under his government that Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world?
“How many jobs has this administration created for our teeming unemployed youths? It is unfortunate that Nigerians got a man whose archaic policies and personal ineptitude led a once thriving economy into a tailspin and perpetual downward slide.
“It is further regrettable that Buhari who claims to be a man of integrity has failed all integrity indicators in leadership and personal character of being true to self.
“Only last week, the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) alerted Nigerians that will soon resume its suspended strike following the refusal of the Buhari to honour agreement it reached with the union early this year.”
Frank said it is on record that under Buhari, all budgets were presented in late December, and for the last four years, budget performance has remained between a woeful 25 to 30 per cent while the appropriated amounts were brazenly stolen without consequence.
He said, “Only recently, Buhari’s wife, Aisha, cried out that the N500billion Social Intervention Programme was never implemented, even as there are no mosquito nets to show for a scandalous sum of N16billion set aside for that purpose. Is the SIP being implemented by Saraki and Dogara or the aides of the President?”
The activist maintained that rather than the 8th National Assembly being the problem, Buhari has been the real cog in the wheels of the nation’s progress and development.
He called on the President to immediately apologise to Nigerians for leading them with subterfuge and outright misinformation.
“It is on record that Buhari refuses to sign several bills passed by the 8th National Assembly like the Electoral Act, Proceeds of Crime Bill, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, etc, that would have impacted positivity on the nation’s electoral system, the fight against corruption and the petroleum sector, respectively.
“Why engage in blame game when you cannot discern quality minds nor fathom a brilliant and workable idea even if it were to come from perceived political opponents?
“It is clear that the achievements of Buhari in the last four years remain gargantuan propaganda, poverty, suicides and comatose economy for which he has not stopped to blame the 16-year rule of the opposition party.
“I also believe that Buhari has nothing in stock for Nigerians in the next four years, reason he has shifted his pastime of blame for failure to Saraki and Dogara.
“If anything, the unbridled corruption in Buhari’s administration and the thieving aides around him should be held responsible for his unabashed failures.
“Is it not laughable that “Baba Go Slow” has got people to blame for the snail speed of his government?
“A President whose district head was kidnapped and whose Emirate Council since has suspended the celebration of the this year’s Eid-el-Fitri as a result of insecurity is blaming Saraki and Dogara for his cluelessness,” Frank declared.
Wike, Promise Keeper – Eze Gbakagbaka
His Majesty, Eze Oha Evo III, King Leslie Nyebuchi Eke, has described the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, as an astute leader and a promise keeper.
Eze Eke stated this when he spoke with newsmen at the commissioning of Rumuigbo internal roads in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, yesterday.
Governor Wike, he said, has so far proven that he has the interest of the state at heart, and expressed satisfaction over the Governor’s continuous project execution even towards the end of his administration.
According to him, the internal roads built by Governor Wike have opened the area to new trench of business and economic activities.
He noted that the community has now become a bee hive of business activities due to the roads.
The Evo King recalled how floods ravaged the area in recent times, but said such now belong to history due to Wike’s intervention.
On the recently commissioned phase one of the Trans-Kalabari Road, he said it has exposed the riverine communities to business activities as well.
He noted that the prices of commodities in the area will now stabilise as more business operators will be trooping into the place.
“The jinx of monopolistic operation is now broken. Everyone in the area will now be moved to do one business or the order. I think the Trans-Kalabari Road is one in million. Kudos to Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike”, he said.
He also called on the people to jettison all forms of rancour and acrimony and give the in-coming administration under the leadership of Sir Siminialayi Fubara the needed support in order to enable him execute more people-oriented projects like the out going governor.
The monarch, who supported the idea of ‘Consolidated Government’, revealed that it would bring about rapid development in the state.
“My thinking is that Consolidation is necessary. For instance, the beauty of governance in Lagos State is that they maintained one party over the years, which has addressed the issue of abandoned projects”, he said.
The Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration has executed more projects in the state than any other government with no record of abandoned project.
By: King Onunwor
Pensioners Demand Separate Ministry Under Tinubu’s Govt
Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has called on the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, to create a ministry that will be saddled solely with the responsibility of addressing the plights of retirees in the country.
The South-West zone of NUP made the call after its quarterly meeting in Abeokuta, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the meeting was attended by chairmen and secretaries of NUP from Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Lagos and Ekiti states.
Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, the Zonal Public Relations Officer of NUP in the zone, Olusegun Abatan, said that the creation of the ministry would turn the fortunes of pensioners around in the country.
Abatan called on Tinubu to do more for pensioners when he assumed office as president.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has done quite a lot for pensioners. He really helped them and so we are appealing to Tinubu to please give the matter of pensioners serious attention.
“We want a separate ministry that will be solely addressing matters that have to do with pensioners under the administration of Tinubu,” he said.
Abatan alleged that governors of South-West states were owing pensioners in the zone huge sums as gratuities and pensions.
He urged all the governors in the zone to implement the consequential adjustment and the 35 per cent increment in pensions without further delay.
Abatan particularly cited Ogun, Ekiti and Osun states where he claimed that the gratuities of pensioners were paid last in 2012.
“They are owing arrears of pensions, gratuities and other entitlements, including gratuities and entitlements to the next of kin of some deceased pensioners.
“We want to appeal to our governors to step up their interests in the affairs of pensioners,” he said.
We’ll Defend PDP’s Mandate Secured During The Election In Rivers -Wike
Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State will defend the mandate that was been given to all of its candidates in the 2023 general election.
The governor noted that soon the various election tribunals will commence sitting where the mandate will be challenged, but the PDP will stand in defence of its candidates to ensure that the mandate is not stolen.
Governor Wike gave the assurance when he spoke at a luncheon organised to celebrate the PDP candidates who won their election and have been presented with their Certificates of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Those honoured with the luncheon at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday were the Governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, Deputy Governor-elect, Prof. Ngozi Odu and other elected Representatives of Rivers State to the National and Rivers State House of Assembly.
Governor Wike pointed to the fierce political battle that was experienced during the general election and that if not for God, the victory that PDP is celebrating today would have eluded it.
The Rivers State governor told those who have been elected to the National Assembly to support every cause that promotes national unity, while placing the interest of the State paramount at all times.
He explained the importance of working in tandem with the State on any cause, whether it is suiting to them or not, but because it is expedient in advancing the interest of the State.
Governor Wike pointed to some Rivers leaders who went to Abuja and betrayed the interest of the state. He said they have become the greatest losers and fallen out of relevance in the State.
The governor also urged the elected representatives to trend with caution and never use their elevated positions to undermine or antagonise existing leadership structure in their various local government areas.
He told them not to abandon those who have contributed sundry efforts to ensure that their emergence at the polls was successful.
Governor Wike scolded Hon. Nwanaka Okpokiri, the member representing Ahoada West State constituency, for working against the success of the PDP in the last general election, but failed.
In his speech, Rivers State Chairman of PDP, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, said there is massive celebration across the State over the victory of the party in the last general election.
He noted as astute the leadership governor Wike provided in leading the party in a fierce electoral battle that has produced youngest governor-elect in Nigeria, Sir Siminalayi Fubara.
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