The All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, who is also a former head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned the ongoing National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan, saying it is a waste of time and resources.
Speaking yesterday at a one day roundtable of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Legislative and Civil Society titled “Improving Governance Through Transparent Budgeting, Accountability and Effective Public Finance”, in Abuja, Buhari said the whole mandate of the national conference is the responsibilities of the National Assembly which cannot be taken away from them.
According to him, “Nigerian elites should have organized themselves and see their members of the House of Representatives and tell them to get a motion that would concern any amendment to the constitution rather than wasting time on what ordinarily would have been taken care of by the lawmakers”.
He regretted that it is wrong for President Jonathan’s government to have lavished N7 billion on the ‘get together’ called National Conference, especially now that civil servants could not get their salaries on time.
Speaking also at the event, the Director General of the PGF, Salihu Lukman, explained that the reason for organizing the roundtable discussion was to have a forum where the Progressives Governors Forum would consider and institute a quarterly round table series, where issues bothering on corruption should be discuss.
He said this would serve as strategy to cement relationship between the governors, legislators and the various civil society organizations in the country.
In his inaugural speech, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Feim Gbajabiamila, pointed out that section 162 of the Nigeria’s Constitution, which allows the President to present the budget proposal at “anytime” in a year, was the cause for the delay in passing the budget.
“This becomes virtually impossible since the legislature, which is meant to scrutinize such proposals needs ample time to do so. For instance, the fiscal year in America begins in August but the law requires that the budget is presented first week in February giving the US Congress 9 clear months to deliberate on it”, according to him.
“I proposed an amendment to the constitution, changing the words “anytime” to September 30, which gives the legislature three clear months to work on the budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year.
“This amendment has passed through the National Assembly and awaits the approval of the State Assemblies”, he said.
Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, said one of the fundamental principles of APC is to do things differently.
“It is our belief that politics, government and public service should be about developing partners with all groups within society to deliver effective, efficient and accountable governance to the people”, he said.
“We do not see legislators as adversaries; we see them as partners in a democratic expedition, without whom democracy would be mere civilian dictatorship”, he added.