Resumption: Budget padding, economic recession top House agenda

AS the National Assembly resumes today after its two months long recess, alleged padding of the 2016 budget and economic recession facing the country is expected to top the agenda of House of Representatives.

The House had embarked on its recess on July 20 with expectation to resume on September 13 but was forced to postpone its resumption date to September 20 for Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

During the break, allegation of budget padding among some principal officers and key chairmen in the House was raised by the former chairman, House committee on Appropriation, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Those principal officers accused of padding the budget include the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Hon Yussuff Lasun; Chief Whip, Hon Alhassan Ado-Doguwa and the House Minority Leader, Hon Leo Ogor.

Hon Jibrin, also alleged that the speaker and four other principal officers inserted figures into the budget to the tune of N284 billion.

Some members in the House, including Hon Peter Akpatason, disclosed that the House may be forced into an executive session where all the controversies and blames between the Speaker and Hon Jibrin will be addressed.

According to him, “The issues that actually led to the tension in the House will be in the mind of everybody.  I can’t say for sure whether that issue will be discussed tomorrow. I expect that as we resume, we shall quickly go into executive session where we shall critically look at the issues.

“If we are fortunate to go into executive session tomorrow, one of the things I expect is that people will insist on getting a brief from the speaker and from the other principal officers that were alleged to have padded the budget.

“Also if Hon Jibrin is courageous enough to come into the house tomorrow, he may also have to answer a lot of questions with reference to the allegations he made against those people. I think that will provide us the opportunity to be up to date on the issues because what we keep hearing is allegations and counter allegations. I can tell you as a member of the house that some of those things are wrongdoings but not all of them.

Speaking in the same vein, Hon Ayodeji Adebayo noted that “The first thing is our internal issues which I want to believe will be resolved, anybody that has to be blamed will be blamed, any correction that has to be done will be done. We need to tell ourselves the truth no matter whose ox is gored.

“Secondly, the country has been declared to be in recession. Just like in the Senate, we need to call on all the major stake holders to come and explain the plans that they have to take the country out of recession, because it is very important, there are so much hardship in the country, poverty level has increased, so what are the plans government has to take us out of this recession,” he stated.

Also, Hon Nicholas Ossai declared that the state of the economy, more than any other issue will be the dominant issue that will engage lawmakers today.

He added that Nigerians are groaning under harsh economic burden inflicted on them by the present recession of the economy.

According to him, “The most important thing is to address the issue of the economy which is biting very high on Nigerians. The executives have already set the ball rolling. It’s just like what I advocated for, a retreat between the executives themselves which they did last week, and a good cordial relationship between the executive and the entire national assembly.

“The issue of budget padding or no budget padding, Nigerians are looking beyond that, they are looking at the issues that will put food on their table,” Ossai stated.