Dogara challenges Tinubu to provide facts on padded budget

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THE House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara has challenged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to back his accusation of budget padding by the two outgoing presiding officers of the National Assembly with facts.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, by his media aide, Turaki Hassan, the Speaker said Asiwaju Tinubu’s accusation was the result of his political ambitions.

He also said the Eighth Assembly has performed its legislative responsibilities well where the Executive allegedly fell short of providing good governance.

The statement reads: “We have noted the statement issued on April 21 by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wherein he stated his reasons for sponsoring or supporting some aspirants to various leadership positions in the forthcoming Ninth National Assembly…

“The chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time.

“For the records, in the last four years, there was no urgency or plan by the Executive to achieve a January to December budget cycle. For the avoidance of doubt, we will show the dates the budget estimates were submitted by the Executive in the last four years below: 2016 Budget was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the year; 2017 Budget submitted on December 14, 2016, just 17 days to the end of the year; 2018 Budget was presented on November 7, 2017, the earliest even though it also fell short of the 90 days stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the 2019 budget was presented on December 19, 2018, exactly 12 days to the end of the year.

“As if the late or delayed submission of budget estimates was not enough, in most cases, ministers and heads of agencies contributed to the so-called delay by consistently refusing to appear before National Assembly’s standing committees to defend their budget proposals, in line with the provision of the law.

“At some point, the leadership of the National Assembly had to take up the issue with the President, who advised his ministers to honour legislative invitations to defend their budgets.

“What Nigerians don’t know 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 of 2018, which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget.”

“These were communicated officially, and if anyone is in doubt, we will exhibit the letters with the dates they were written and received. In any case, the National Assembly inserted a clause in the Appropriation Bill consistent with S.318 of the Constitution, which allowed the Budget to last 12 months after Mr President’s assent. This enabled the Executive to spend more of the capital component of the Budget as it still had 12 months protected by law.

“As an activist legislature, the National Assembly effected an amendment to S. 81(1) of the Constitution to compel Mr President to present the Budget estimates not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year in order to solve this problem. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, Mr President declined assent to the bill, which was passed by the National Assembly and over two-thirds of the State Assemblies.

“Asiwaju Tinubu should mention the so-called bills the Executive sent to the National Assembly and were delayed to show he is a man of honour or forever keep his peace.”

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