Wednesday, December 14, 2016 5:35 PM/ NASS
REMARKS BY SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA, AT THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2017 APPROPRIATION BILL BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR ON 14TH DECEMBER, 2016, AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
It is a great honour and privilege for me on behalf of our colleagues in the National Assembly to also welcome Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and his entourage to the National Assembly, on the occasion of the presentation of the 2017 Budget estimates.
2. We give special thanks to all members of the National Assembly here present for according Mr President and his entourage a warm reception. To the management and staff of the National Assembly ably led by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, our sincere thanks for organising this ceremony. Our thanks also go to all other participants, especially the media for their support, cooperation and understanding.
3. We thank Mr President for the lofty goals enshrined in the Budget document just presented which is designed to take Nigeria out of economic recession and achieve significant economic growth for our nation.
4. Mr President, Commander in Chief and my colleagues, I seek your indulgence to make a few remarks on the budget process, procedure and practice in Nigeria.
5. It is certainly frustrating that we go through the annual Budget cycle/process: of Budget presentation by Mr President, processing of same by the National Assembly, passage and signing into law every year, without unlocking the full potentials of such Budgets for our citizens. This is because implementation and execution of the agreed Budget is always a major challenge year in year out. Sometimes, implementation rate is as low as 30%, most times it is never higher than 50% at the best of times. This has led to unacceptably high rate of abandonment of projects and distortions in Nigeria’s economic planning. Of course, this is an inherited problem for Mr President as he has only effectively passed through one Budget cycle.
6. As I counseled last year, an Appropriation Act must be allowed to run for an uninterrupted period of twelve months, for the Executive to have enough time to execute it. This means that both Mr. President and the National Assembly must find a way to continue the execution of the 2016 Budget especially the capital component till May 6, 2017, which is twelve months from the date Mr President signed the 2016 Appropriation Bill. This is also the clear intendment of the definition of a Financial Year in Section 318 of the Constitution. The problem is that most often the recurrent component of the Budget is implemented to an appreciable level, but the capital component execution is very low. It is crystal clear that the capital component of the 2016 Budget cannot realistically be implemented for only six months period considering the time required for procurement processes and the raising of the revenue including loans by government. Except something is done, this will result in yet another failed budget. A vicious cycle repeated every year. We must therefore put on our thinking caps and ensure that the change promised Nigerians is reflected in our budget process, as we cannot really make appreciable progress as a nation without significant implementation of the Capital component of the Budget.
7. Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, kindly join me in urging Mr President to add distorted budget cycle and abandoned capital projects white elephant projects, to the list of things, in addition to corruption, that he must kill. This calls for creativity which cannot be realised if we do not lose our fear of being wrong. By being creative in this area, Mr President will build a new order that makes the existing order obsolete. There is no better way by which real change is attained.
8. The real challenge before us is to make our annual budgets work for all our citizens, especially the poor and the vulnerable. This is a task all of us must be supremely devoted to. It was President J.F Kennedy, who in his timeless and resonating admonishment to the rich and powerful reminded us that, “if the society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”. Sadly, this is fast becoming true of our society right now.
9. In conclusion, let me, on behalf of my colleagues reassure Mr President of our continued cooperation and partnership in all measures proposed to revamp our economy and put smiles on the faces of our people. As representatives of our people, history will judge us harshly if we act as a stumbling block on the part of progress for our dear nation.
10. May I, once again, thank everyone here for the many sacrifices that culminated into this huge success which we have all witnessed today. Let me, in advance and in arrears, wish all December Babies (beginning from Mr President, the President of the Senate and my humble self) Happy Birthday. For those of us who are not fortunate to have been born in December, I wish us all Merry Christmas and Happy New year in advance.
11. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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