Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has defended the decisions of some committees in the green chamber to hold budget defence behind closed doors.
Since the budget defence started about three weeks ago, some committees like North East Development Commission (NEDC), Niger Delta Affairs, Power, Foreign Affairs and Basic Education have been sending out journalists invited to cover the defence during the 2020 budget breakdown of various Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).
But the Speaker, while speaking with journalists after making a surprise appearance at the budget defence of the House Committee on Agriculture, insisted that there must be a genuine reason why the committees held the budget defence behind closed doors.
Gbajabiamila stated: “If you see things like you have expressed, there would be reasons. Budget process is an open thing, it is transparent, it is accountability. But if there are one or two areas when you had closed door meetings or private meetings, there might be implications, I don’t know. It could be security implications, have not gotten that brief. It could be things necessary for the process itself or the country.
“So, if out of a hundred committees so to speak, you find out in one or two committees, I can bet you that there is a reason that are genuine and very verifiable reasons. I will not be able to preempt without speaking to the chairmen, but it is an information that I will take on and talk to the chairmen and find out exactly why the meeting was in closed door and I will take it up from there.
“All in all, we have had a great outing, we are trying to meet the deadline without sacrificing the thoroughness of the budget defence. We can do both at the same time, we can get back to January to December cycle and at the same time have a thorough, comprehensive budget defence process. That’s exactly what is going on.”
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Diaspora has said that the era where Nigerians in Diaspora are treated as filth without commensurate response to the nationals of those countries are over.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, disclosed this at the inaugural meeting of the committee held at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
The chairman noted that the committee dare not fail Nigerians in Diaspora and the nation at large in tackling the challenges of Nigerians in Diaspora through appropriate legislative interventions.
Akande-Sadipe said that the committee would seriously engage other stakeholders in addressing all issues confronting Nigerians outside the shores of the country.
The chairman noted that the committee would create a synergy with other stakeholders to make Nigeria, a nation where its citizen would no longer be migrating in droves seeking greener pastures elsewhere.
She stressed that this is the ultimate among all democratic dividends that the political elite must deliver to the masses, which she said the committee would vigorously pursue.
Sadipe said: “Let me reiterate that the era where Nigerians in Diaspora are treated as filth without commensurate response to the nationals of those countries are over.”
She stressed that the recent and most unfortunate incidents involving Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Germany and Senator Buruji Kashamu in United Kingdom were warning signals of dangerous trend that the committee must nip in the board.
Against this background, she stressed the need for the committee to champion a new relationship between Nigerians in diaspora and the political representatives at home.