…Asks defaulting agencies to subject themselves to budget defence •Honour slain newspaper vendor killed by Speaker’s security aide
The House of Representatives yesterday directed the standing Committees on Finance, Aviation, Army, Science and Technology, Commerce, Solid Minerals, Health Services, Health Institutions, Works and Basic Education to submit their budget defence report to the Committee on Appropriation latest on Thursday.
Others affected by the directive are Committees on National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Agriculture, Labour and Employment, Tertiary Education, Poverty Alleviation, Gas Resources, amongst others.
Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila who gave the order at the resumed plenary of the Green Chamber on Tuesday instructed the Committees to use the two days grace to tidy up their budget defence report.
The House had on Tuesday adjourned plenary to November 24, 2020 to enable lawmakers have adequate time to hold budget defence sessions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs).
Peoples Daily gathered that, the Time Table for budget defence slated for the submission and defense of budget reports to the Appropriations Committee between 11th and 18th November.
Also at the commencement of the plenary, the House honour the deceased newspaper vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke who was last Thursday killed by a security aide attached to the Speaker’s convoy.
The honour followed the invitation leaders of the Abuja Newspapers Distributors Association (ANDA) and the Newspapers Vendors Association, Abuja (NVAA) by the Speaker, Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila equally appealed to his colleagues while reading his resumption Speech to gave full attention to debated and passed for second reading two critical Bills, namely: the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.
He said already, the Special Committee on Constitution amendment chaired by Deputy Speaker, Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase, has since commenced work as it had called for memoranda from the public.
He encouraged members to reach out to their constituents “to participate in both the Constitutional Review and Electoral Amendment processes by articulating and submitting the changes they wish to see. This too is part of the joint task of nation-building.
“It is through the aggregation of the many and varied opinions of all Nigerians that we will arrive at a constitution that meets all the best expectations we have for our country.
“As much as is possible, I encourage all the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the House Committees to seek out innovative avenues for public engagement, stakeholder collaboration and cross-pollination of policy ideas.
“Increased public participation in the legislative process is also part of our Legislative Agenda,” Gbajabiamila said, adding that “When done appropriately, such interactions can build support for policy initiatives and promote relations between the House of Representatives and the public on the one hand, and the critical policy stakeholders on the other.”
The Speaker said following the budget defence period, “Efforts are in full swing to ensure that we will pass the budget on time in keeping with the standard we set last year, and which the Nigerian people now rightly expect of us.”
However, the Speaker observed that during the budget defence process, there were government agencies “that consider the exercise of the legislative authority to review their budget proposals as an undue incursion on the management of their offices.
“This posture stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the legislative role in the appropriations process.
“Let me at this time reiterate that when the Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate convene to review the heads of expenditure contained in the Appropriation Bill, we do so in the exercise of clear and concise constitutional authority.
“Let me also state very clearly that this is a responsibility we take seriously, and will not evade, regardless of whatever objections may arise from any quarters.”
The Speaker asked such agencies to come over and subject themselves to the budget defence process as it is part of the constitutional mandate of the House.
“It is in the best interests of our country that all parties concerned subject themselves to this process in good faith, knowing that this too is an obligation of service to our country.
“We will pass the budget, and we will do it early, and we will do it right. The Nigerian people expect as much from us. I thank all of you for the work you have put in thus far, and I encourage you to continue in this regard.”
Gbajabiamila also called on the media to always ascribe comments made by individual members of the House to such members and not the entire House, saying whenever the House has a position on a matter, it would come out to say so.
“There are no restrictions on the rights of members to speak to the press at any time and to espouse their ideas, and positions. However, these individual statements do not represent the official position of the House of Representatives. Treating them as if they were, usually to drive a particular narrative is a deliberate attempt to malign the House to further the known and unknown agendas of outside parties.
“It is time to put a definite stop to this. When the House speaks as a collective, we will do so through our resolutions and the Spokesperson of the House. Any other pronouncements should be ascribed to the individuals that make them, as is the fair and proper journalistic practice.
“I said this, because I read through the paper this morning and the headline said that the House said the 2021 Budget will not get us out of recession, and it was ascribed to the House of Representatives. That is why I feel it is important to mention it in our opening remark. If you don’t hear us say anything officially on any policy or any issue, do not ascribe it to the House. If the House needs to speak collectively as an institution, we will do so.”
The House at plenary also prayed for the repose of the soul of Ifeanyi Okereke, the vendor that died from a shot fired by a security agent attached to the Speaker last Thursday.