The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, says the National Assembly would ensure exhaustive consideration of the 2022 budget that President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the federal legislature.
In a remark at the budget presentation before a joint session of the National Assembly, Gbajabiamila recalled that upon inauguration, the 9th Assembly committed itself to pursue long-awaited and critical reforms to the appropriations process for better delivery on the promise of national development.
The Speaker, who said the National Assembly was committed to the timely passage of the Appropriation Bill as it did in the last two years, noted that the next two to three months will be for the strictest scrutiny of the budget estimates and emphasized that lawmakers would hold government agencies accountable for the previously appropriated funds.
He added that while working to deliver the previous budgets, the lawmakers worked through the day and night, forgoing all other considerations in a joint effort to deliver a national budget that meets the highest expectations of the Nigerian people.
“Therefore, I am confident that the National Assembly will give this Appropriation Bill the prompt consideration it demands.
“However, let me use this opportunity to say to the heads of ministries, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria that the determination of the National Assembly to deliver a timely budget will not derogate from our responsibility to ensure exhaustive consideration of the Bill.
“We will demand a thorough accounting for the funds previously appropriated, disbursed, and expended. And we will take steps to hold to account those who fail to provide the records we need to make informed decisions on the Appropriation Bill. This is the responsibility of the National Assembly, and we will live up to it.”
Reforms introduced by the 9th Assembly
The speaker noted that the reforms introduced by the 9th Assembly in the appropriations process, “including establishing a January to December budget cycle, improving oversight procedures, and ensuring greater fidelity to the letter and spirit of our appropriation laws, have led to measurable improvements in public infrastructure, access to education and housing, healthcare and transportation, amongst others.
He said innovations in technology, the changing nature of global trade, the challenges of cross-border insecurity, and the increasing interdependence of nations have continued to “present challenges we must overcome and opportunities we must embrace.
As legislators and leaders in government, the speaker said, “we have a continued obligation to ensure that in considering this Appropriation Bill, we make all deliberate efforts to ensure that we continue to make critical investments in education and healthcare, public infrastructure, and national security.
The speaker stated the House has, in the last one year, passed several important resolutions relating to healthcare, primary education, and national security that require actual funding.
Gbajabiamila thanked President Buhari for coming to present the budget estimates personally as usual, and commended the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Budget Office, Honourable Ministers and all those who contributed to drafting the Appropriation Bill.
Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; editing by Abdullahi Lamino