*assures speedy passage of 2021 Budget
By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that officials of all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), who come to the National Assembly to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.
The Speaker disclosed this on Thursday while delivering his closing remarks at the 2021 budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari to the joint session of the National Assembly.
He explained that this is to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements, and in adherence to the Covid-19 social distancing protocols.
Gbajabiamila also assured Nigerians of the speedy passage of the 2021 Appropriation Bill laid before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the lawmakers will collaborate with the MDAs of the Executive to deliver a budget that meets the needs and matches the ambitions of the Nigerian people.
He commended Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and all those who have laboured to develop the proposal that the president laid before parliament.
Gbajabiamila said: ”We have once again just experienced the beauty and majesty of our democracy — the Laying of the Budget proposals before the Legislature for consideration and approval. On behalf of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I extend sincere appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR for coming to the House today for this purpose, in fulfilment of the obligations of his office.
”When just over a year ago, we gathered in this chamber to receive the budget proposal and begin the appropriation process, we made specific commitments to the Nigerian people. We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.
”I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process. Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution. I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.
”We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment. We kept that promise too. We recognise that more needs to be done, and I assure all the Nigerian people that we will continue in this regard.
”The world changes quickly, often without notice, and always with consequences. We have learned this lesson at a high cost in the past few months, and we must ensure that the lessons learned are reflected in the budget that emerges from the appropriations process. We must make sure that we are better prepared for next time because there will be the next time.
”The reality of globalisation and the connected interdependence of nations means that there will always be something on the horizon that threatens to destabilise our world. Let us move forward in this certainty and make sure that we are prepared for the future, whatever it may bring.”