Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, SundayÂ said the Minister of Works, Power, Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), cannot dictate to the National Assembly on what to do and what not to do on the budget, saying it is an organ vested with powers to either increase or reduce the budget size.
Fashola had criticised the Senate for slashing the total estimate allocated to his ministry in the budget recently assented to by the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo from N31billion to N10billion.
He said the huge reduction would incapacitate his office on some of the projects such as Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Mambila Plateau Power project among others that were already earmarked for completion.
But Ibrahim, who spoke with journalists on the sidelines of the fifth edition of the University of Ilorinâ€™s Studentsâ€™ Union Leadership Summit held in Ilorin, theKwara State capital said it was unbecoming of the minister, who he described as an appointee of the president to criticise the legislature.
According to him, â€œAs far as appropriation bill is concerned, Fashola cannot dictate to the National Assembly on what to do and what not to do.â€
He said: â€œIt is an organ vested with powers to either increase or reduce the budget size.â€
Ibrahim explained that the issue of budget is primarily between the lawmakers, who represent their constituents and the Nigerian populace.
He maintained that the minister was oblivious of the fact that he is no longer the Lagos State Governor, who possesses all powers.
He added that both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the budget and was subsequently signed by the acting president.
The Senate Committee Chairman advised the minister to refrain from his criticism of the budget allotted to his ministry in the appropriation act and represent those projects that were not captured in the supplementary budget.
â€œThe minister and former Governor of Lagos State doesnâ€™t own the budget; he doesnâ€™t own the ministry. He is a minister appointed by the president, who stood for an election.
â€œThe president presented the budget according to the Constitution and the National Assembly deliberated on the budget and passed it back to the president and the President signed, who is minister to complain? That is my take. I think he (Fashola) has forgotten he is no more Governor of Lagos, where he has all the powers.
â€œHe is just a minister. So, we have gotten to a point that he has to realize that for the budget, the dealing is majorly between Nigerian people and the National Assembly. And constitutionally, it is the President that laid the estimates and when we passed it, we passed back to the executive, that is the president, to assent.
â€œAnd the President has assented (the budget) as done by the acting president. So, for me as a lawmaker representing my people, if the executive is thinking of anything, they can bring a supplementary budget,â€ Ibrahim said.
On the summit and the book launch in his honour, the lawmaker expressed satisfaction with the activities of the studentsâ€™ union.
â€œIâ€™m very happy, humble and glad to be associated with a great institution like this. As I promised, I will not let them down,â€ he said.