2017 Budget: Lawmakers Should Demonstrate Patriotism—Fashola

July 7, 2017

By Dipo Olowookere

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has reacted to comments made by the Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Mr Danjuma Goje, on the floor of the Senate this week, accusing the Minister of ‘insulting’ the National Assembly concerning allegations that the legislators imported some projects into the 2017 budget.

Mr Fashola, in a statement personally signed by him and sent from Zimbabwe where he is currently attending the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Shelter Afrique, described the Senator’s language as unparliamentary, therefore not deserving of a reply

She further described as regrettable that Mr Goje would seek to trivialize the issues he raised about the unilateral slashing of the budgetary allocation to key national infrastructure by the National Assembly.

According to the Minister, the Senator’s reference to the patriotism of legislators should not be spoken but demonstrated as regards his calls for a more developmental budgeting approach.

Explaining this further, the Minister declared, “In this context, it is left for Nigerians to then decide whether budgeting for constituency roads is more patriotic than budgeting to complete the Kano-Maiduguri Road that connects 5 states, the Lagos-Ibadan road that connects 3 states and helps to move food, imported goods and fuel across the country; or the 2nd Niger Bridge that connects the East and West geopolitical zones of at least 11 states together.

“I will also leave Nigerians to judge whether it is more patriotic to budget for the Mambilla Power Project that will contribute to more power across Nigeria or reduce the budget to build street lights in legislative constituencies.”

The Minister noted that the response to the issues he raised certainly should not have been accusations of his blackmailing the Legislature or referring to those who shared his views as his “surrogates”.

Reiterating his respect for the Parliament as a house where very vigorous debates about development should take place, Mr Fashola advised Senator Mr Goje to acquire the temperament for such debate and disagreement.

“Let me reiterate that I see Parliament as a house where very vigorous debates about development should take place and it is important for Goje to acquire the temperament of debate and disagreement”.

Decrying the Senator’s admonition that he should learn how to “behave” like a “Minister” and the reference to the Senate awaiting how he would be “handled” by the House of Representatives, the Minister declared, “I think first that the language is unparliamentary and therefore not deserving of a reply”.

Noting that Mr Goje’s faux pas gave a clearer insight into how the Senator and those who may be minded like him may be thinking having transited from the Executive arm to the Legislative arm, the Minister called for caution.

”It seems that it is such people who need a behavioural prescription about legislative function,” Mr Fashola said.

According to the Minister, a good budget remains a necessary tool for the Executive to do its work because when services are inadequate, the members of the public often look to the Executive arm for answers.

“I need a better budget as a tool to do my work and that is why l am speaking out”, he said.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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