Opposition Lawmakers Insist on Thorough Scrutiny of 2020 Budget

Ndudi Elumelu
Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led opposition in the House of Representatives has said the N10.3 trillion 2020 budget would be subjected to thorough legislative scrutiny to ensure that it reflects the general aspiration of over 200 million Nigerians.
The Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement issued yesterday also frowned at reports that certain committees barred the media from covering their budget defence sessions.

He insisted that budget defence must be transparent so that Nigerians are fully carried along in all the processes leading to budgetary decisions in all critical sectors
To this end, the minority has directed all opposition members in various committees to ensure strict compliance with the democratic principles of transparency, accountability and prudence in the budget planning as well as in the implementation oversight of both the capital and recurrent components.
Elumelu maintained that the House had resolved to pass the budget before the end of the year, stating that the details, particularly the capital expenditure items and implementation modules, must meet the yearning of Nigerians before the budget is passed into law.
He said the opposition recognises the fact that Nigerians look up to them to protect their interest on critical issues that directly affect their lives, particularly on budget planning and implementation in key sectors.
Elumelu declared: “Given the sorry state of our infrastructure, the opposition must ensure that the votes earmarked by the president for the rehabilitation of roads, power infrastructure, health services, agriculture, water resources, education, among other critical sectors are thoroughly scrutinised to guarantee full implementation as well as reflect the federal character principle across board.”
“Consequently, the details of the N2.46 trillion capital budget must be dissected and adjusted accordingly to ensure that critical needs of Nigerians are adequately accommodated, as well as to plug waste and eliminate budgetary corruption at every stage.”
The minority leader also assured Nigerians that the opposition would take critical look at all revenue projections from Value Added Tax (VAT) and other tax regimes so as to ensure equity and fairness, and to guarantee that the masses are not overburdened in the process.
Elumelu further guaranteed that the opposition would fully monitor the implementation of special intervention funds for the unemployed; welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Northeast and other parts of the country to ensure that the money is not diverted as witnessed in the past under a former Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Meanwhile, the ongoing budget defence in the House will continue today, even as plenary resumes tomorrow.
The House had on October 9 suspended plenary in order to achieve the objective of reversing the budget calendar from January to December cycle.
However, after three weeks since  the budget defence exercise started, most Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have defended their 2020 budget.
Following the public hearing on the 2020 budget held last week, the federal Ministry of Education, Federal Scholarship Board and Nigeria Immigration Service and others are billed to appear today before the respective committees.
The House had also scheduled the submission and defence of budget reports to appropriation committee from October 30 to November 5, 2019.