By David Olalekan.
In swift reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that the leadership of the National Assembly frustrated the early passage of the 2019 budget, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has fired back at the president.
Dogara maintained that President Buhari should be blamed for the delay and not the leadership of the National Assembly, explaining that the president “has been unable to present budget on time” since he assumed office.
In a statement he personally signed, the Speaker explained further on President Buhari’s failure to present the budget on time.
He said: “His first budget was the 2016 budget, which was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the fiscal year.
“The minimum the National Assembly requires to pass a budget is three months. But he presented it just nine days to end 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.
“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.
Dogara expressed disappointment over President Buhari’s constant blame game, which he perceives as a desperate move to exonerate himself from any failure of the Executive under his leadership.
“To be precise, the president said, ‘If the National Assembly takes seven months to pass a budget, then we should be commended for the much that we have achieved, and can still achieve. I personally feel very disappointed. I spoke with the leaders of the National Assembly on the issue that seven months is a long time to work on a budget.”
“Even though buck passing and blame game is not new to Buhari as it is now his stock in trade; in the past few days and weeks, there is no day that passes without the President blaming others in a desperate move to exonerate himself from any blame or failure of the Executive under his leadership to execute projects across the country.
“In fact, very recently, Buhari blamed all his predecessors for failing to build infrastructure. And I wonder why? It was the general consensus that the former employees didn’t perform as expected and that was why Nigerians hired him for a job he has sought for four conservative time but here he is blaming the same people he replaced. If you are the boss of ”Nigeria limited”, what will you do this employee?
“However, it is disingenuous for President Muhammad Buhari to blame the National Assembly for his government’s inability to implement budget and execute projects that affect the lives of Nigerians in the last three years” the statement said.