Budget Padding Is A ‘Misrepresentation Of Facts’ – Deputy Speaker

Yusuf Lasun, Reps, Budget Padding, 2016 Budget, House of RepresentativesThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, has described as misrepresentation of facts, the widespread allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.

He said that contrary to rumours being peddled around the country, there was no section of the appropriation bill that was padded.

The lawmaker explained that the legislature had in exercise of the power conferred on it by the constitution, reallocated figure in the budget estimates as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the disclosure while delivering a lecture at the 17th edition of the media parliament of Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr Yusuf spoke on the ‘Challenges of Law-making and the Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria’ during the gathering at the Abubakar Olusola Saraki Pen House in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He explained that it was the exclusive preserve of the legislative arm to rework annual fiscal document tabled before it by the executive, stating that such document remains “an estimate and not real budget”.

The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had blown the lid that some principal officers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly partook in the budget padding scam, was suspended from office.

His allegation had ignited public outrage against the National Assembly while the House maintained that the budget was not padded as alleged.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, House, Budget padding
Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin

Budget Padding Debacle

The Deputy Speaker, however, told the gathering in Ilorin that the allegations against the leadership of the House by the suspended lawmaker were of no effect and could not be substantiated, insisting that the House acted within its powers.

He stated that the House was empowered to reallocate and reconcile figures in the budget estimates that were believed not to be properly done.

Honourable Yusuf decried that many Nigerians were ignorant of the works of the legislative arm and were fond of passing verdict without verifiable facts on some allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

He explained further that it was the primary responsibility of the law-making body to scrutinise budget estimates submitted by the executive arm, adding that members could use the avenue to address pressing needs of their people.

“While the executive makes proposals on projects, programmes and expenditure for every year, the legislature finally approves figures that are spent.

“In the process, the legislature often interfaces with the executive to have certain projects and programmes form part of (the) budget.

“This is necessary as I have said earlier because the closeness of the legislator to the constituents must have emerged from that environment.

“It is critical that certain pressing areas requiring government attention are suggested and included in the estimates.

“Unfortunately, the poor understanding of the fine details of legislative practice anchored on the express provision of the constitution erroneously informed the so-called budget padding debacle which was a distraction to the polity.

“For instance, the case of 50-year-old Ojutu Bridge in my constituency that has great potentials in turning around the lives of my constituents,” Yusuf said.

Deputy Speaker Decries Lack Of Policies From Executive

Yusuf-Lasun-deputy-speakerThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yusuf Lasun, has decried the unwillingness on the part of the executive in some instances to take the legislature into confidence as major challenge to democracy.

He also identified the rot in the third tier of government as one of the major obstacles to the growth of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, describing it as “a pain in the neck of Nigerians”.

Honourable Lasun made the observation while delivering his address at the 17th edition of the media parliament of the Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Ilorin.

He spoke on the topic: “Challenges of Lawmaking and The Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria”.

The lawmaker noted that for any democratic setting to positively affect the citizens, the executive arm must have a clear and well defined set of programmes for interpretation by the legislature.

He expressed optimism that the dividends of democracy would be meaningful if the process was achieved.

Mr Lasun further pointed out that transforming of manifestos to policies, as well as policies to actions through the legislative arm were the missing links in Nigeria’s democracy.

Deputy Speaker Suggests Way Out Of Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Crisis

Yusuf-Lasun-deputy-speakerScarcity of the dollar and huge reliance on imported goods in Nigeria have been linked to the high exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira, a situation that has seen the parallel market rate rise to as much as 500 Naira to a dollar.

The Nigerian government has explored several strategies to push the Naira up, including a flexible foreign exchange policy but the rate is still high, and has been stable at a the moment, hovering around 460 to 490 Naira to a dollar in the parallel market.

However, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf, thinks there is a solution found in a drastic decision that the nation has to take.

Amidst this crisis is the reality that Nigeria is blessed with large arable land but the nation still imports food.

Path Of Economic Doldrum

Honourable Yusuff is, therefore, suggesting that an end should be put to incessant importation of food produce from other countries.

Presenting three tractors and other implements to farmers in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, the Deputy Speaker said the current problem of foreign exchange could be tackled if the country could look inward in providing its own foods.

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Agriculture experts have said that the kind of farming that will benefit a nation is that done with mechanised implements

Statistics show that Nigeria currently imports food items worth over two trillion Naira despite the huge agricultural resources and potential.

Worried by this trend, the call for all to return to the farm has been the chant of governments at all levels.

Perhaps, this prompted Honourable Yussuff to donate the tractors to the Farmers Association in Osogbo, Irepodun and Olorunda Local Government Areas, as he explained that the “Federal Government is very serious about agriculture and very committed to it. The only route we can take now to quickly get us out of this recession is through farming and any country that is not able to feed itself is not likely to quickly get out of poverty.

“I only urge our leaders that people in government should make deliberate efforts to go back to their constituencies to make an input in a manner that will allow people to get empowered and be developed. Other people can go to neither sectors. They can build hospitals, produce drugs and equipment and build schools. In the last six years I have been able to build about sixty classrooms”.

He says a country with food importation running to about a third of its annual fiscal budget must know that it is threading on the path of economic doldrum irrespective of fuel slump.

While presenting the three tractors with coupled implement to the farmers through the Farmers Association in Osun State, the Deputy Speaker said all must support the government in its strive for sustainable development through agriculture which he believes is the surest path out if current economic hiccups for the country through food self-sufficiency.

“This is beyond empowerment. It has to do with a fundamental part of life. Farming is so important in the sense that the Yorubas have an adage that when you are able to feed yourself, you have solved half of your problem and it goes without saying that any nation that is able to feed itself, is on the path of greatness. So, what I have done today is basically because we are trying to kick-start our developmental programme in Nigeria and the only way we can do so is to first revert to a sector where we will be able to feed ourselves and that can only happen by going into extensive farming.

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Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf, handing over the tractors to the farmers

“Also, you all know farming by hoes and cutlass can not feed a family talk less of a nation, so I have only tried to tell people that yes we are asking them to go back to farm to work with this tractors. This programme was organised and supervised by the Farmers Association of Osun State and I am a farmer too. So, I’ve promised to be supporting them so that we can take Nigeria out of the rot,” he stressed.

Receiving the tractors and a donation of two million Naira on behalf of the farmers, the chairman of All farmers Association of Nigeria, Osun State chapter, Kayode Afolabi, said farmers deserved more than lips service support.

He said: “Since crude oil seemed to be failing Nigeria, the surest way out is agriculture.

“We are extremely pleased with what has happened here. The provision of these three brand new tractors in addition to two million Naira cash offered to us by Honourable Lasun Yusuf. We are very pleased. The significance of this gesture is that, it will solve to a very great extent the challenges of farmers in the state. It has been one of our greatest challenges especially the lack of tractors and now that he has done it, to use it is a massive gift. We have never seen this kind of gesture before.

“We will use the tractors very well. This is non-political gift and amongst us we have people who are from different political group and we promise that we will make optimum utilisation of this tractors to boost Agriculture in our state”.

The three tractors and coupled implements are said to cost about 60 million Naira.

We Need Dedication, Hard Work To Win Ondo, Oyegun Tells APC Members

apc-members-at-ondo-rallyThe National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Oyegun, has asked members of his party in Ondo State to mobilise for the governorship candidate of the party, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, in the November 26, election in Ondo State.

Mr Oyegun told members of the party on Thursday that wrestling power out of the hands of an incumbent government was not an easy task.

“For the APC to win the poll, dedication and hard work are major requirements needed from its members,” he said.

The Chairman of the APC spoke at the flag-off campaign of Mr Akeredolu held on Thursday in Akure, the State’s Capital, which was attended by prominent chieftains of the party from across Nigeria.

Mr Oyegun explained how important the state was to the Federal Government which it is in control of, emphasising that the state must join the mainstream politics.

The APC chairman said they would not allow the state to continue to remain in the hands of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, urging the electorates to give 90 per cent votes to his party.

“Are you happy with the present government in Ondo state? Do you want change? It is not easy to change. It is very easy to change and remove the present government but it requires hard work and dedication. I am convinced that the 26th of this month November is a day for us.

“I assure you that we in Abuja will support you to ensure that the APC takes over power in Ondo. Just as we will not let you down, please, pick your PVC and let it be ready. Tell your friends, family and other relatives, you need to vote for the APC, as this is the only party that can give you the desired change you are yearning for,” he told the crowd of supporters.

On his part, Mr Akeredolu boasted that the APC in the state would not miss the opportunity of joining the mainstream politics.

“We are committed to fighting this course. We should work together to ensure victory at the polls come November 26. We have promised that we will create jobs for the youths, through agriculture, entrepreneurship and Industrialisation.

“Our workers have not received their salaries in a long while but we will ensure that that becomes a thing of the past if we are elected into power.

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Members of the All Progressives Congress and supporters at the campaign in Ondo

“We will not frustrate the people but will bring smile to their faces.

“Twice this party has called me and twice I have answered the call. It is a call to serve the people and liberate the people of Ondo State and I believe that together we will triumph, with your support.

“Look at the calibre of governors, ministers and party members here. Let us vote right and vote for the APC, the winning party,” the APC candidate appealed.

He noted that as long as the APC was ruling in Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and other states in the south-west, the party must take over Ondo State.

Some of the top party members at the rally were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, who represented the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who represented the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun Governors, Plateau, Simon Lalong, Borno, Kashim Shettima, Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun, Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal and Bauchi, Muhammed Abubakar.

Others were, Ministers of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, Communication, Adebayo Shittu, Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Uguru, Niger Delta (state), and Professor Cladius Daramola.

Also at the rally were Senator Joshua Dariye, Senator Olorumbe Mamora, Sola Iji, Pauline Tallen, and Chief Ayo Akinyelure, Segun Oni, Adeniyi Adebayo, Isaac Kekemeke, Ali Olanusi, Tayo Alasoadura and Ade Adetimehin, Osita Izunaso among others.

Lawmakers Probe Aviation Sector

house-of-representiatives-committee-on-aviationMembers of the House of Representatives on Tuesday held a public hearing on the challenges facing Nigeria’s aviation sector.

Officials of the government and stakeholders in the aviation sector were at the hearing.

Issues that had been whipped up by a plan to concession four international airports’ terminals were discussed.

The Federal Government says the planned concession of the four airports’ terminals is aimed at repositioning the aviation sector, generating more revenue and enhancing service delivery.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the government’s position while addressing the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on the need to rescue the airline industry from collapse.

He says the present economic situation has led to the downturn in the aviation sector.

One of the ways the government hopes to address some of the challenges in the sector is to focus on some airports, he told the lawmakers.

Representatives of airport staff unions, led by the National President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association, Benjamin Okewu, however, opposed the proposed concession.

Mr Okewu expressed fears that the airports the government was planning to concession were the viable ones.

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Officials of the government and stakeholders at the hearing

The public hearing followed a motion passed by the House on the need to rescue the airline industry from imminent collapse.

The Chairman of the House Committee, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, outlined some of the challenges that are of concern to the House to include the suspension of operations by local  airlines, increasing termination of operations by international airlines and the licencing requirements and capacity of local airlines.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuff Lasun, believes the sector is too economically viable to be ignored.

“This sector also supports 159,000 jobs in Nigeria,” he stressed.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Lanre Lasisi reports that the debate will continue over the next few days.

Lawmakers Propose Ways To End Niger Delta Militants Attacks

Ike-Ekweremadu-Senate-Deputy-presidentFederal lawmakers are considering strategies that the Federal Government plans to implement in solving the menace of militants attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region.

Some prominent members of the National Assembly made some suggestions while addressing Channels Television on Friday at the sideline of a legislative event in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, observed that the activities of Niger Delta Avengers were not something to be tackled using the military approach.

He recommended that the brilliant idea of amnesty invented by the administration of late President Musa Yar’Adua should be properly considered.

Senator Ekweremadu said he figured out that government had relented on the amnesty programme, stressing that it should be taken seriously.

In another interview, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yusuf Lasun, said the 13% derivatives that were due to the Niger Delta, according to the constitution, were not well appropriated to the region.Yusuf-Lasun-deputy-speaker

He admitted that the southern region was thoroughly under-developed, urging the government to call peace to the region by dialoguing with the militants.

A group that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers have carried out series of attacks on oil installations in the region, demanding for independence.

They recently gave the government conditions for dialogue.

House Of Reps Approves $300m Diaspora Bond

House of Representatives on Diaspora BondThe House of Representatives in Nigeria has approved the increase of the diaspora bond from $100 million euro bond to $300 million Euro bond.

The request was made by President Muhammad Buhari, as part of the Federal Government’s external borrowing plan for the 2016-2018 period.

The new approved Diaspora Bond was in a recommendation submitted to the House on Tuesday by an ad-hoc committee set up to consider the President’s request.

Addressing reporters on the development, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yusuf Lasan, said that the Diaspora Fund was expected to reduce the cost of government borrowing.

He said that the proceeds of the issuance would be used to finance capital projects in priority sectors of the economy such as roads, railways and power projects among others.

Lawmaker Promises To Resolve ATM Cards Challenges Abroad

ATM CardsThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives says the National Assembly will work to help resolve some of the challenges being faced by Nigerians abroad with their bank ATM cards.

Honourable Lasun Yussuf said this when he led a delegation to the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth in Malaysia.

While acting High Commissioner to Malaysia, Janet Odeka, highlighted some of the efforts of the embassy, the Deputy Speaker said that he was aware of the challenges facing the staff of the consulate.

He also met with a section of the Malaysian chapter of Nigerians in diaspora where he promised that the legislature would keep an eye on the challenges being faced with bank ATM cards.

Honourable Yussuf appealed to the Nigerians in Malaysia to remain law abiding and forthright.

He also encouraged them to always give Nigeria a positive image, assuring them that all their demands would be considered.

Okorocha Commends Court Judgement Affriming His Victory

Rochas OkorochaThe Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has commended the Appellate Court for upholding the ruling of the Election Petition Tribunal that affirmed his victory during the April 2015 general election.

The Governor also commended the court for justifying the people’s confidence in the ability of the judiciary to uphold justice and respect lawful actions of the people over who would govern them at any given time.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemoudo, Governor Okorocha commended the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha and his legal team for exercising their constitutional rights, adding that “it will help strengthen the nation’s democracy”.

He also called on the PDP candidate and other Imo indigenes, irrespective of party affiliations, to support his government to further sustainable growth and development and build the state of their collective dreams and aspirations.

Meanwhile, Hon Ihedioha while reacting to the judgment, directed his counsel to approach the Supreme Court and seek redress against the Appeal Court’s ruling.

In a statement by his Media Aide, Chibuike Onyeuwku, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives called on PDP members   and all Imo indigenes to remain resolute ‘and continue in their prayers as the Okorocha-led administration in the state will very soon, give way for a PDP-led God fearing, purposeful, transparent and qualitative administration’.

House Of Reps Deputy Speaker Says He Will Not Resign

Yusuf-Lasun deputy speakerThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, Honourable Yusuf Lasun, has insisted that he will not be forced to resign as the Deputy Speaker of the House.

Addressing members of the Abuja chapter of the Ilobu Development Association on Monday, Honourable Lasun said that the pressure being mounted on him to resign would amount to nothing because he was duly elected for the position.

The Deputy Speaker, however, said that if he succumbed to the pressure, it would amount to cheating members of his constituency, who elected him during the National Assembly election on March 28.

Honourable Lasun stressed that those suggesting his resignation, as a way of resolving the leadership tussle in the House, only wanted to reap where they did not sow.

He claimed that Ilobu remained one of the strongest APC holds in the country, explaining that his emergence as the Deputy Speaker was nature’s way of rewarding loyalty to the party by his constituents.