By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has reassured Nigerians that the 9th assembly is prepared to conduct holistic reforms of key sectors such as the national security, policing framework and implementation of appropriations process that will guarantee better management of national resources.
Gbajabiamila, who gave the assurance in his remarks delivered on his behalf by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase Tuesday at the pre-inaugural dialogue session of the National Budget Reform Roundtable (NARRT), said a group of distinguished and capable individuals has been assembled to drive the process.
He noted that since the 9th assembly assumed office, it has stated its commitment to conduct holistic reforms of key sectors to better ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government lives up to its responsibilities to the Nigerian people.
“We promised and we will deliver on our commitments to remove regulatory and policy bottlenecks so that businesses can thrive, and our economy can attract new investment from within and outside our shores.
“We are determined to address the problems of our significant infrastructure deficits by funding critical infrastructure projects across the country and by working with the private sector to devise and implement effective strategies to encourage private sector investment in public work projects.
“And we will revamp our national security and policing framework through implementation of a community policing strategy that brings our citizens and our communities into an enduring partnership with the security agencies to jointly ensure that our communities are rid of the criminal elements who offer nothing of value and destroy everything we hope now and in the future to build.
“The National Assembly Reform Roundtable (NARRT) is one of the platforms we intend to use to drive the process of reform across critical sectors from healthcare to education and the economy, national security to social justice and social welfare.
“Reform efforts, no matter how well-meaning or well-intentioned will often fail when there is insufficient support from the stakeholders and from the wider community. The National Assembly Reform Roundtable (NARRT) exists amongst other reasons to serve as a vehicle for consensus building; driving engagement and collaboration so that the reforms we propose in the House of Representatives can achieve the support of the stakeholders without whom all efforts at passage into law, and subsequent implementation will fail and our efforts will be for naught,” Gbajabiamila stated.
He emphasised that the power to manage government expenditure through the appropriation process is the central power of the legislature and it is the power that would make all the proposed reforms possible.
According to him, “Our intention to deliver on the promise of infrastructure development, meet the challenges of insecurity, provide our citizens with quality education and reposition our economy for growth, will not be met until we succeed in developing and implementing a budget framework that adheres to the best practices of effective budget policy.
“As such, reforming the appropriations process to ensure greater accountability, improve budget implementation and achieve some level of certainty in the process is an important component of the agenda of the 9th House of Representatives, and it is for this reason that we have chosen National Budget Reform as the first stage of our reform efforts.
“I am pleased that we have assembled such a distinguished group of capable individuals, bringing knowledge and expertise from different backgrounds to deliberate on the subject. It is my expectation that this dialogue session and other engagements that follow would birth ideas and strategies for implementation that if followed conscientiously will deliver a budget process that is wholly reformed, and thoroughly effective in delivering outcomes that serve the best interests of the Nigerian people. Rest assured of my personal commitment to these efforts, and my determination to see this process through to success.”