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Nigerians want review of budgeting process

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Abuja – Some Abuja residents on Tuesday called for a review of the country’s budgetary process to reflect a more transparent and robust procedure.

President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2017 Budget before a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

In separate interviews they said that review of the process would eliminate all forms of delay in passing the budget.

A legal practitioner, Mr Sagir Tijani, expressed concern that the country suffered repeated delays in passing its annual budgets because of inconsistencies.

“In most cases, issue of acrimony between the National Assembly and the Presidency has been responsible for budget delays since the inception of democratic rule.

“Since 1999, budget for a particular year was not passed until the middle of that year. This has consistently made nonsense of Nigeria’s budgets.

“It therefore necessitated the call for an overall review of the budgetary process to reflect seriousness on the part of the legislators and the executive arm of government,’’ Tijani said.

Mr Emmanuel Iroegbulam, a political analyst, said that the fundamental focus of the Federal Government’s proposal in the budget was to make practical impact in areas that mattered most to Nigerians.

“However, the controversy that surrounded the 2016 Appropriation Bill fell below this expectation.

“This is because the budgeting process gave room to padding, missing, subterranean withdrawal attempt, re-jigging by the executive and others,’’ Iroegbulam said.

Similarly, Mr Osayi Uduehi, said that the leadership of the National Assembly should transmit the budget directly to the president for assent after passing it.

Udehi said that such procedure would check the introduction of new projects and items into the budget, “things that were not proposed by the executive or removing proposals already defended at the committee stage’’.

On his part, a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ahmed Kaita (Katsina-APC), said that sending the budget directly to the president would disabuse the minds of Nigerians over irregularities that characterized the 2016 budget.

“It is my opinion that after we must have worked on the budget, it should go direct to the president.

“It will disabuse people’s mind, especially considering what happened in 2016, that the budget was missing; that the budget was changed and so on.

“It is my opinion that whatever we do here concerning budget should go direct to the president,’’ Kaita said.

However, Rep. Ayoade Ojoawo (Oyo-APC) said that the 2017 budget of N7.44 trillion gave credence to every topical issue the country needed to address.

“This is the first time somebody will come up with an idea that the budget was not padded, but we are trying to identify with key areas of development – industry, agriculture, education and need to diversify.

“This in turn will boost the economy if we only cooperate and ensure that the budgeting system work effectively,’’ Ojoawo added.

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