The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the N13.08 trillion budget proposal through second reading and referred it to the joint Committees on Appropriation, Finance, National Planning as well as Aids, Loans and Debt Management for further legislative action.
Speaking during the debate on the general principles of the 2021 budget proposal, the Speaker, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila underscored the need to structure the 2021 budget “in a way that we are not going to have abandoned projects.”
On his part, Hon Obinna Chidoka who lauded the disposition of the Buhari’s administration towards improved funding for the Second Niger Bridge expressed optimism that by Q1 2023 the Second Niger Bridge will come on stream.
While speaking on President Buhari’s comment on the N128 billion proposed budget for National Assembly, Hon Obinna Chidoka said: “the mischievous people out there, what they have done is to divide 128 billion by 469 members that’s all they’ve done.
“And right now, our young ones are out there protesting about #EndSARS, now the mischievous ones have turned it again to say #EndSenatorsAndHouseOfRepsMembersSalaries, that’s another mischievous one,” Hon Chidoka lamented.
Also speaking, chairman, House Committee on Basic Education, Hon Julius Ihonvbere advocated for practical development paired with actual economic growth. He called for the application of solid government policies that will drive the confidence and action of the private/public sector for visible economic growth.
He queried some components of the budget proposals which he stated were repetitions of projects that have no economic bearing on the development of Nigerians.
In the same vein, chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon Babajimi Benson, who commended the presidency for the early laying of the budget proposal before the National Assembly, however, decried the underfunding of the infrastructure-related sectors as the consequence is dwindling economic growth and developmental opportunities.
Hon Benson, however, praised the drive by the president to establish a world-class investment company which will ensure financial tools will be well exploited through the central bank and will ensure a robust Sovereign Wealth Fund.
While stressing the need to include Defence on the first-line charge, Hon Benson expressed worry at how low the defence budget is as it cannot adequately fight the insecurity being suffered by many states.
In his contribution, Hon Mohammed Wudil, who emphasized the need for the provision of more robust policies that would ensure mass employment creation, as the high level of unemployment estimated at over 20 million, is a direct cause of the very high poverty level, queried the meagre funds allocated for skill development and employment creation.
While venting his view, chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Hon Nicholas Ossai who argued that the budget estimates as one of hardship for Nigerians, queried such components as the emphasis of Federal Ministry of Transport on the only provision of railway lines to the detriment of other parts of the sector.
He also expressed concern at the lack of provision of funds directly channelled to alleviate the economic hardship the youth are facing which should help douse the frustration and anger the youth are expressing very loudly in the country now.
While calling on members of the House in committees to use their good conscience and patriotic spirit to ensure they pass a budget that will indeed provide economic recovery for Nigerians, he expressed concern over the continuous need to borrow money to fund what is not capital oriented.
In his remarks, the Speaker observed that though security is critical; scarcity of funds may be the reason for the uncharacteristically low funds for defence.