As President Muhammadu Buhari signs the 2019 budget into law, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has explained that the executive and the National Assembly will continue to work on areas that need improvement so that better implementation of the law can be achieved.
He spoke at the Presidential Villa where he joined other state functionaries to witnessed the signing of the budget.
Speaking on some issues raised by the president on adjustments made by the National Assembly on the document, he said both arms of government are focused on ensuring that the budget meets the needs of Nigerians.
He said, “The issues he (President Buhari) was raising concerning certain reductions that were made in the budget and some subheads increases were made and that such reductions made it a bit difficult for some of those projects to be implemented.
But he said it is an ongoing process and will have discussion with the leadership the National Assembly to see what they will be able to do to in other to put that behind them and then execute whatever critical projects that suffered some form of hurt in the process of passing the project in the National Assembly.”
Hon Dogara also added that the issue of timeline of the budget was also mentioned by the President, who he quoted as saying he will align the appropriation time to be like that of the private sector which is from January to December.
“What I heard him say is the issue of aligning the appropriation from January to December just like the case in the private sector. I think that can really be achieved but it must start with the early and timely submission of the budget to the National Assembly from the executive. A situation where the budget is submitted in December, even if you shut down the entire National Assembly, we will not be able to achieve the January deadline,” he stated.
He added, “Going forward, this is a collective exercise. The budget is a law and being a law, it falls within the purview by constitution and design of the National Assembly to make the law. In most cases, it is the National Assembly that decides how federally generated receipts should be expended and the National Assembly took that decision and we are glad that the president has signed it into law.”
The speaker reiterated that the job of the National Assembly is not to agree with the executive, as there is any congress in the world that does that.
“By the constitution and design, the executive informs us what they intend to do and the representatives of the people in National Assembly decides what is priority since they represent the people. It is going to be a nutty area but we will continue to define the relationship between the executive and the legislature. Whether it is Britain or US, where it is, there is always a strain, this issue of budget, because it deals with high stakes-distributional issues as to who gets what, which part of Nigeria gets this and that, so it will continually be an issue.
“We should not be defined by those issues. Rather, we should define those issues by forming consensus that is the part to progress and we will continue to do that.”