Speak Out Africa Initiative has expressed displeasure over the comment made by president Muhammadu Buhari when he signed the 2022 budget saying the budget is unlikely to be implementable.
The Executive Director of the group, Kenneth Eze and member CSOs Partners on Electoral Reforms, made this position known in an interview on Independent Television (ITV) in Abuja recently.
According to the Eze, such a statement is discouraging and could complicate the plight of the Nigerian people who are already overstretched and bedeviled with myriads of harsh economic situations.
He said the alleged action carried out by the National Assembly – if true – is enough for the President not to sign the budget and send it back for reconciliation as there was no need signing an unimplementable budget.
“Nigerians would no longer be at the receiving end for economic hardship while the political office holders live in affluence”. The political elite conspiracy and scheming must stop.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored the Executive – Legistlative fiasco if not that poor Nigerians are the ones to suffer the outcome as the grass will always be made to suffer when two elephant fights.
“In addition, such statement cum action could connote potential acceptance for failure in governance if not tackled.
“Hence, why we deem it fit to address it squarely and raise concern so as to ensure the people of Nigeria is not shortchanged by any means.
“We call on Nigerians to count on us with a promise to nip to the bud once and for all; this lingered issue on budget appropriation, passage and assent.
“Our organization and other interested parties shall take it upon us to seek redress in a court of competent jurisdiction on this aged-long matter between the Executive and the National Assembly on their constitutional powers as regarding budgeting.
“This will settle the budget fiasco under the nomenclature of padding, project insertions and whatever.
“It is high time the court pronounced judgment on the functions and powers of the duo in the matter of budget – whether the National Assembly has any power to insert, remove or alter any budget sent from the Executive or they do not.
“This will lay to permanent rest the perennial rift which ordinary Nigerians are made to suffer for what they know not.
“Sadly, the National Assembly was advised by the public to suspend the passage of the 2022 budget, and perfect work on the returned Electoral Bill as highlighted by the president but unfortunately they opt not to be on the side of the people as they went ahead with the budget – a scenario many viewed as furthering personal interest over the public interest especially with the recent allegation made by the president regarding the budget distortion.
“On a second thought, Nigerians wonders at the speed which the budget (even though it was alleged to have been distorted) received quick presidential assent whereas same treatment was not meted on the Electoral Bill.
“This raises to questions our priority as a nation – whether on credible election and processes which requires that the electoral umpire be given ample time to internalize, implant and implement and that of the budget that will come into effect after the March 31st cycle of 2022 which was rushed into signing.
“Furthermore, the ongoing budget saga keeps the people in the dilemma as to whose interest both the Executive and Legislature represent,” he said.