Senator representing Ekiti South senatorial district, Adedayo Adeyeye, has said the 9th Assembly was anxious to cultivate a harmonious working relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari in order to avert any form of revolution in the country.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, the former Minister of Works recalled that the acrimony between the leadership of the 8th National Assembly and the Presidency in the name of the former carrying out its statutory oversight functions frustrated the economic agenda of the administration, as he noted that previous times were wasted bickering over the budgeting process.
Such a cold war between the two arms of government, he admitted courted the anger of the electorate.
He argued that the unfolding working relationship between the Executive and the Presidency was not meant to make the national assembly subordinate to the Presidency but to work together to find lasting solutions to problems confronting the nation.
He said: “Our agenda is to work hand-in-hand with the executive in order to find a solution to the problems of Nigerians. We have a system of government in which we have separation of powers among the three arms of government – the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
“The separation of powers does not mean acrimony between the three arms of government which I will refer to as division of labour, with each arm working towards a common purpose. We need to work together and find solutions to the problems confronting the nation. We want to avert any form of revolution.”
The former governorship aspirant in Ekiti State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party advocated that the legislature be involved in budget formulation and planning ahead of the formal presentation before the national assembly.
Senator Adeyeye said such an interface between the federal lawmakers and head of ministries, departments and agencies of government at the formative stage of budget planning would make for easy passage of the document when it is ultimately presented to the lawmakers for their scrutiny.
He further suggested that such collaborative efforts should start early in April for both arms of government to complete the process of budget examination by July.
He said: “Right from the process of budget formulation and planning, the Executive should involve the National Assembly along. There should be collaboration and cohesion. I don’t see anything wrong in the ministries, department and agencies of government, inviting the relevant committees of the legislature to meetings so that they could all brainstorm, even at the point of budget planning. If there would be collaboration at the early stage, the process of approval and confirmation by the federal parliament would be faster and a mere formality because nothing in the budget would be strange to the two parties.
“I see no reason the Executive would take it upon itself to write the budget with the exclusion of the lawmakers. It is not possible for the National Assembly to rubber stamp it so, they will scrutinise it and accommodate projects that are of the essence to the people they represent too. At that stage, it affects the plans and programmes of the executive too. The nation’s budget has not been efficient in the last four years because the implementation is usually below 20 per cent and this is not healthy for our economy.
“The executive and the legislature should start the budgeting process by April with meetings so that by July, both arms of government should have concluded the process of examination. Then it should be submitted by September. Since the National Assembly would have been part of the process from inception, it won’t take them long to pass it, latest by December and the implementation would commence in January.”
He said his suggestion would not in any way rubbish the oversight functions of the national assembly but fast track budget presentation and implementation as he noted that the six months wasted in each fiscal year on the altar of budget scrutiny would have been saved.
“In the last four years, particularly in the 8th Assembly, the national budgets were usually signed in the middle of the year which in effect was a six-month loss in the fiscal year.
“I was a Minister and I realised that late passage of budgets affected the operation of the executive especially in the Ministry of Works where I served. All unspent funds of all ministries are returned to the treasury by the 31st of December each year. So, what do you expect a Ministry of Works to do when the national budget was approved in June and its implementation started in July? We are not likely to have spent 20 per cent of the money appropriated to us. We are not likely to have started anything on the project we want to execute. This is because we probably start the process of awarding contracts around August and September.
“Before you know what was happening, the Finance Ministry would be demanding for the return of unspent money to the treasury. We found ourselves in a situation whereby the budgets we plan every year are never executed. So, we ended up rolling over a project that should have executed within a year, to a period of about three to four years. I think we should have a system of budgeting in which the entire process, right from formulation, planning and approval by the National Assembly is concluded by the first week of December. So that by January, the government can start its implementation on a full year scale. This will give room for rapid economic development.”