The Citizens of Impact Foundation (CIF) has expressed its dismay and disappointment with the National Assembly over its handling of the 2017 budget especially its unilateral increase of its own budget sum and mutilation of the budgetary provisions of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
In a press statement issued by the CIF Executive Director, Comrade Daniel 'Seun Olatunde, the organization lamented that the NASS was subverting the budget process for personal gains and shortchanging the nation and her people in the process.
According to Comrade Olatunde, it is unconscionable that in a country in dire need of massive infrastructural development, the NASS will reduce budgetary provisions for infrastructure projects only to increase its own budget from N115b to N125b.
Citing examples, the CIF noted that one of the fuel for the agitation by groups like IPOB and MASSOB was the cry of infrastructural neglect of the south-east, the government in 2017 proposed N15b for the second Niger bridge but this was slashed to N10b and yet south-east lawmakers who only recently staged a walk out when the proposal for a south-east development commission did not sail through were loud in their silence on this.
Furthermore, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on which work is ongoing, a major artery to Nigeria's commercial nerve center had its budget drastically reduced by more than 60% from N31b to N10b.
Also, construction of the Bonny-Bodo bridge which will link Rivers state mainland to Bonny Island had its budget removed. Curiously, the Senate only recently passed a resolution for the government to construct the same bridge to link the NLNG plant. NLNG has already committed to providing 50% of the funds required to build this bridge if only the federal government can provide the remainder, it is the government's counterpart funding that NASS has now yanked off.
Many more projects including the Mambilla power project that would generate an additional 3000MW of badly needed power was also removed to accommodate our legislators' gluttony and make way for boreholes and primary health centers which rightly belong to local governments.
We recall the needless controversy last year over the NASS removal of the funding for the Lagos-Calabar railway corridor. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
The NASS must change its approach to the budget process. The NASS must stand with the Nigerian people in our quest for development, it must contribute to nation building by facilitating massive infrastructural projects. The gods at the NASS must advance the cause of the people and not be an impediment.
The NASS members must note that you don't exert legislative independence by denying the people needed infrastructure, there are more than enough constitutional mechanisms including oversight responsibilities for the NASS to flex its powers. The people should not be the proverbial grass when the two elephants are fighting a needless ego war.
It is only proper as representative of the Nigerian people in National Assembly to live up to the titles you bear as distinguished senators and Honourable Members and tow the path of honor in order for posterity to judge you kindly.
Comrade Daniel 'Seun Olatunde
Citizens of Impact (CIF) is a social justice organization with a primary purpose of promoting the interest of ordinary hardworking Nigerians without name and face recognition.