Blame yourself not NASS over budget delays, Dogara tells Buhari

Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives has told President Muhammadu Buhari to blame himself over the delays in passage of budgets.

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Mr Buhari had on Monday while signing the 2019 budget blamed the National Assembly for delaying in passing the budgets sent to it.

But responding, the speaker said the president should be held responsible for budget delays because since he took over power he has never submitted budgets to the national assembly on time to warrant early passage by the legislative arm.

“Since his assuming office, the president has been unable to present budget on time. His first budget was the 2016 budget which was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the fiscal year,” Dogara said in a statement he signed on Monday.

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“The minimum the National Assembly requires to pass budget is three months. But he presented it just nine days to 2016.

“Again, the 2017 budget was presented on December 14,2016, just 17 days to the end of 2016. ‘The earliest he presented budget was on November 7, 2017 which was the 2018 appropriations bill. It was less than two months to the end of the year.

“However, his ministers refused to appear before National Assembly committees to defend the budget for five months thereby delaying the passage.

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“It was after the leadership of the National Assembly sought the President’s intervention on March 16, 2018 that the ministers reluctantly appeared before the committees, an exercise that takes at least one month to complete.

“In fact , some of them who felt they were super ministers sent in their permanent secretaries.

“What Nigerians didn’t know and the President won’t say is that the Executive through the various ministries continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt the letters are there with the dates they were written and received. But here’s Buhari blaming the National Assembly.

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To set the record straight, this is a President who, from inception of his government didn’t show any sign that he was well prepared and ready for the job he sought for four times in 16 years and for which we voted for him.

“For instance, it took him six months, yes six months not six weeks to form his cabinet. It also took him two years to appoint board chairmen for most government agencies. This is was his greatest undoing and was principally responsible for plunging Nigeria into recession because activities in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government were brought to a half for the period since civil servants could not take decisions due to absence of political heads in a country where public sector spending drives the economy. At a point, he even said he was happy working with civil servants because ministers or politicians were noisemakers because “they are only there to make a lot of noises”, he told a French television station in September 2015.

“Now, after three years, with election in three months, the President is at it again, exonerating himself from apparent failure of his government thereby throwing the blame right at the doorstep of the legislature. But facts don’t lie and they could be stubborn,” he said.

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Dogara also accused the president of violating the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 which demands early presentation of the budget.

“Since the inception of the Buhari administration, it has been in constant violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which stipulates that budgets should be presented in early September. The wisdom or import of the FRA is that the National Assembly will have at least three full months to work on the budget bill,” he added.

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