- Â House to revisit removal of Okene-Lokoja road project from 2018 budget
James Emejo in Abuja
A mild drama played out wednesday on the floor of the House of Representatives when the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun, insisted that a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member representing Esan Central/West/Igueben of Edo State, Hon. Joseph Edionwele, must retract a statement suggesting that the present administration and by extension, the National Assembly, was not serious as a government in proffering lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the economy particularly in the area of budgeting.
Edionwele had taken his turn to contribute to ongoing debate on the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
He started by alleging that: â€œWe are not serious as a nationâ€ before the deputy speaker quickly interjected him and asked him to withdraw his statement before making progress.
Lasun said his statement was too strong to be allowed unchallenged as it could mean an outright indictment on the government and lawmakers as well. Although, the lawmaker had tried to clarify his statement but was resisted by Lasun who insisted on a retraction.
â€œI withdraw my statement that as a nation we are not serious,â€Edionwele finally succumbed.
Nevertheless, in his submission, the South-south lawmaker said He does not see how reasonable development could be achieved particularly where earmarked capital projects are inadequate in the budget.
â€œWe are not really getting things right. We over promised and under delivered in our budget,â€ he maintained.
He said government must emphasise on what could be generated to fund the huge budget else â€œItâ€™ll be a mere window dressing.â€
Hon. Bashir Baballe (APC, Kano) who said he does not have any intention of returning to the House stressed that â€œWe have to tell ourselves the truth no matter whose ox is gored.â€
He said not much was achieved with regards to the implementation of the capital component of the 2017 budget.
Noting that government had been silent on efforts being put in place to meet its revenue target, he said the country is at the mercies of oil price movement and relative peace in the Niger Delta, adding that should anything go wrong, the economy may be brought to its knees again with a concrete strategy by government.
He said it was high time country distinguished between administrative and developmental capital project.
Lasun responded by pointing out that government is currently doing all it can to diversify the economy.
On his part, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) also queried the measures put in place to source the revenue to fund the budget.
He suggested that the oil benchmark be raised to $50 per barrel rather than $45, given that credible research had indicated that oil prices were likely to remain at $60 per barrel next year.
Namdas, who doubles as the House spokesman, said â€œItâ€™s time we saved the situation. People shouldnâ€™t worry on when to pass the budget but for us to do a clean job.â€
Hon. Yusuf Ahmed (PDP, Kogi) said he is concerned about the so-called budget of consolidation when the critical Okene-Lokoja road had been completely removed from the 2018 budget considering the impact it would have on people.
On this, the deputy speaker, who expressed surprise at the removal, said the House will revisit the issue.
Hon. Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo) said the implementation remained a bane to the performance of the budget.
He said as the budget is considered and passed the MDAs should be made to produce a work plan approve and subsequent assessment.