The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has assured that the National Assembly would give thorough and speedy consideration to the 2021 budget estimates presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Gbajabiamila said the promise members of the 9th Assembly made to return the country’s annual budget to the January to December cycle, which they achieved last year, remains unchanged, hence the resolve to ensure a thorough job on the budget at hand.
In his remarks during the budget presentation, Gbajabiamila also assured that members of the National Assembly would hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity in the budget process.
He said they would work with relevant government agencies to ensure that the budget meets the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
“We have once again just experienced the beauty and majesty of our democracy – The Laying of the Budget proposals before the Legislature for consideration and approval.”
“I believe I speak on behalf of the entire National Assembly, in assuring you that this proposal will receive thorough and speedy consideration.
“We will collaborate with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Executive to deliver a budget that meets the needs and matches the ambitions of the Nigerian people.
“And we will hold ourselves in the Legislature to the highest standards of integrity so that our deliberations and contributions to this process are motivated only by considerations of the best interests of the Nigerian people.”
He said: “When just over a year ago, we gathered in this chamber to receive the budget proposal and begin the appropriation process, we made specific commitments to the Nigerian people. We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.
“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process.
“Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning, to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.
“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.
“We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment.
“We kept that promise too. We recognise that more needs to be done, and I assure all the Nigerian people that we will continue in this regard.”
Gbajabiamila announced that “henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.
“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.
“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the Covid-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any time.
“The world changes quickly, often without notice, and always with consequences. We have learned this lesson at a high cost in the past few months, and we must ensure that the lessons learned are reflected in the budget that emerges from this appropriations process. We must make sure that we are better prepared for next time because there will be the next time.”
He thanked the president, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the Budget Office, Honourable Ministers and all those who have laboured to develop the budget proposal.