Change is Here | National Assembly Can No Longer Steal Our Money With Impunity

According to Abayomi who has been fighting this oddity since 2002 and has a case in court about it, there is nothing like constituency project since the National Assembly has NO power, whatever, to insert any project in a budget, the Nation reports.

Isn’t it the saying that there is honour even amongst thieves? When was it Nigerians saw anything like this hurricane convulsing the House of Representatives? Apparently, even with all the emphasis on CHANGE during the elections, our legislators never believed that a new Sheriff had hit town.

How would they, with Bukola Saraki riding roughshod, not only over the APC but even insulting the president in the process? 

Nor had Dogara a whiff of it either, but he was smarter, and a lot more respectful. So he soft-pedaled and aligned with the party. But collectively, they believed that what Ndume called their internal mechanism – read chop and clean mouth – would still be the order of the day.

So off they went, padding and padding, believing they could make the Buhari budget in their own image and, like in President Jonathan’s days, every machete was out, cutting slices of a budget that they knew was going to be funded through massive external borrowing. But who cares? 

If you believe the Dogara side of this roforofo fight, you will have the following: “For reasons that were not noble and not in the Public Interest, Hon Abdulmumin had initially inflated the Budget by adding about N250b more to the total figure as submitted by Mr President. This, the NASS leadership out rightly rejected as a form of financial recklessness and inability to appreciate the dwindling resources available to government necessitating that we act prudently.” 

I can hear Nigerians asking these con artists when exactly they started being, not only so people -friendly, but caring and responsible. If they were half as considerate in an economy where so many are hurting, they would long have stopped being amongst the highest paid legislators in the world as I would show below. 

Confident that they would successfully pad the Buhari budget, change or no change, since this has been a long running practice in the National Assembly, dating back to the Obasanjo era when that President hauled some of them before the courts, Abdulmumin alleged that the House leadership “fraudulently shortchanged the House by taking away N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated for constituency projects and distributing same to themselves even without the approval of the House”. 

It did not stop there as, according to Jibrin, “10 standing committees of the House inserted over 2000 projects worth N284 Billion”, into a budget President Buhari was agonising over its funding. Rationalising this public odium, however, hear how the Chairman, House Information Committee, Abdulrazak Namdas insulted Nigerians. 

According to him “given the workings of the budget process, the House cannot be accused of padding because there is nothing like that.’ In his puerile explanation, this same man, who Tunji Abayomi, a doctorate degree holder in Law recently took through a learning process on budget making on Channels TV, said the following: “Section 4 empowers the National Assembly to make laws for the good governance of the federation while Section 59 confers on the Legislature final say on the budget. “Section 80 (4) on the other hand, which confers on the legislature absolute power of control over public funds, states: “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly”. 

And the cheek of it: “The word manner confers absolute legislative discretion. “When, therefore, the National Assembly appropriates funds in the budget, it can never under any circumstances or guise be deemed or regarded as tinkering or padding’. What impudence, what banality, both anchored on a stultifying ignorance!

If this fellow was not such a poor student, he should not have forgotten the most elementary of what Dr Abayomi taught him: simply, that Budget making is an EXECUTIVE function and that it is the ONLY subject about which the Nigerian constitution specifically specifies the modus. According to Abayomi who has been fighting this oddity since 2002 and has a case in court about it, there is nothing like constituency project since the National Assembly has NO power, whatever, to insert any project in a budget. 

Therefore, the only way legislators can help constituencies is by lobbying the Executive branch to have projects inserted in the budget. To do otherwise, I hope they now know, is to sleep walk to jail.

A stitch in time...