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 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.

agriculture-tractors
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.

lasun-yusuf
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.

House Of Reps To Amend 1999 Constitution

House Of Reps To Amend 1999 Constitution The House Of Representatives Special Ad-hoc Committee, says it has introduced new initiatives in the review process of the 1999 constitution.

This according to them, would be presented as individual bills to ensure flexibility.

The Deputy Speaker who also doubles as the Chairman of the Review Committee, Lasun Yusuf, gave the hint at the end of the three-day retreat on the review of the constitution held in Abeokuta the Ogun state capital.

He said this is a departure from old practice when the amended sections were being presented together as a document for the President’s signature.

Some of the topical issues deliberated upon at the retreat included: administrative and financial autonomy for local government, devolution of power, separation of the duties of the attorney general from the office of the Minister of Justice, among others.

Former Chief Justice Calls For Power Decentralisation

Dahiru Musdapher, Chief Justice, DecentralisationA former chief justice of the federation, Justice Dahiru Musdapher has advocated the decentralization of some aspects of government, especially in the areas of resource management, saying that the current federal appropriation system has bred laziness across many states of the federation.

He made the call in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital while delivering a lecture titled ‘The Question of Nigeria’s Unity’ at the 75th birthday celebration of Chief Alani Bankole who is the father of a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.

The former chief judge chronicled the many challenges facing the country and attempts by government towards resolving these challenges but regretted that despite all of the efforts, the country remains divided along ethnic, political and religious divides.

As if speaking on the current economic challenges facing the country, the former judge asked states of the federation to seek new and diverse avenues for economic transformation of their states.

He added that Nigerians must be brave in addressing the grievances and injustices committed on all sides that have pervaded the Nigerian society.

In his own contribution, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, was of the opinion that bad leadership remains the bane of Nigeria’s development.

He was, however, quick to also call for national cohesion and unity.

Also present at the event was the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; House of Reps Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf; Prince Bola Ajibola; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu and other traditional rulers.

Among other dignitaries were former governors of Ogun and Jigawa states, Olusegun Osoba and Sule Lamido, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Onyeka Chukwu.