Kudos To The House of Representatives

by Bolaji Aregbeshola

One cannot help but express satisfaction with the position of the House of Representatives over the 2009 Appropriation Bill which was presented on Tuesday 2, December 2008 by president Yar’ Adua to a joint session of the National Assembly. For the first time, the House of Representatives has refused to associate itself with the unethical way of legislation which now characterize the Nigerian senate. The senate which was meant to be the leading legislative body has in recent times been a rubberstamp. It has been conniving with the executive to the detriment of the nation’s development. The reason for this insincerity on the part of the senate is not yet ascertained besides it leaves a bad impression in the minds of Nigerians to watch an honourable chamber like the senate become an accomplice to the executive’s dishonest acts. A keen observer of the Nigerian polity would have noticed that the relationship between the senate and the executive is unusual and not in the interest of Nigerians.

From the recent ministerial screening to the short time frame intended for the passage of the 2009 budget, the senate’s prejudice override the national interest and this is appalling. It is not clear why the senate would continue to serve as a rubberstamp to the executive after it was accused of poor implementation of the 2008 budget by the Finance Minister Dr. Shamsudeen Usman.

Since the beginning of the Yar’ Adua administration, there has been different revelations about unspent budget funds but these funds are yet to be probed. Worse still, the senate is planning to pass the 2009 budget without following due process but little do the senate know that the effective or poor implementation of the budget as the case may be affects the citizens either positively or negatively. What government intended to do within the 2008 time frame was not achieved and Nigerians are now bearing the brunt of our political leader’s inefficiency, incompetence and lack of capacity. Really, how do you fast track the growth of the Nigerian economy when the budget is poorly implemented? According to a newspaper report, many lawmakers at the lower chamber are not satisfied with the executive’s benchmark for crude oil. The House of Representatives through its chairman House committee on Rules and Business was also reported to have expressed skepticism about the executive’s proposed source of financing budget deficit but the senate does not seem to be paying attention to this. The issue of poor funding and implementation of the budget has been recurring more over time in Nigeria and it would be disastrous if the 2009 appropriation bill is not properly scrutinized.

Both the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor must be allowed to give necessary details and guidelines before its passage. The senate on the other hand, needs to be careful about its relationship with the executive. Nigeria cannot afford to make the 2009 budget a wishy washy affair and this is the reason why the budget has to be thoroughly considered so that the 2009 fiscal year does not become another wasted year. A speedy consideration of the budget by the senate at the expense of the nation’s well being would be tantamount to serving as a rubberstamp for the executive.

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