The assent to the 2016 Appropriation Bill have been delayed by President Buhari before his trip to China and sent back to that National Assembly in order to address some key aspects of the budget which have to do with his government’s core infrastructure focus that have been removed and slashed by the National Assembly.
The key aspects of the 2016 Appropriation Bill that were removed are Lagos-Calabar N60 billion coastal railway, Idu-Kaduna rail line cut by N8.7 billion, major federal road fund allocated slashed, Polio eradication and essential drugs for HIV/AIDS expunged and Agric/Water resources re-allocated to constituency project.
The National Assembly’s intention to expunge and slashes fund to these critical areas have been fraught with controversies, double standard perception and self-serving with the allocation of Agric-Water resources re-allocation to constituency project.
Out of the key areas expunged and slashed, the Lagos-Calabar Rail Project generated a lot of public outcry especially from the Southern folks such that it becomes imperative to take a critical look at the double standard perception of the National Assembly.
Lagos-Kano Rail Project Double Standard: The National Assembly not only expunged the Lagos-Calabar Rail Project but also diverted N40 billion meant for the project to the N100 billion approved Lagos-Kano project to make it N140 billion. Such act of the National Assembly violates the principle of equity and marginalized the people of the South in having their share of federal capital project.
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China Loan: One of the reasons behind President Buhari trip to China was to seek loan to fund the Coastal Railway projects for both the Northern and Southern region of Nigeria but the purpose for the trip and loan was almost defeated when the Lagos-Calabar Rail Project was removed by the National Assembly. The two major rail arteries (the Lagos-Kano line and the Calabar-Lagos line), among other rail projects are meant to service the northern and eastern part of the country. While the Lagos-Kano rail provision was left untouched, the Calabar-Lagos rail line was removed.
Diversion of fund for constituency project by National Assembly Appropriation Chairmen: To add salt to injury, a balance of N40 billion was then distributed to projects located in the north, mainly roads; many of which are located in the constituencies of the Appropriation Committee Chairmen in the Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin, respectively. While Goje hails from Gombe, Jubrin is from Kano State. This act by the Appropriation Chairmen of the National Assembly is a gross violation of their legislative responsibilities, gross abuse of trust reposed in them by Nigerians and their motives are self-serving.
Until urgent steps and actions are taken by the National Assembly to redeem her damaged image and work harmoniously with other organs of government to improve on the lives of Nigerians. It is only a matter of time before “things fall apart” when Nigerians begin to challenge their political leaders.
Written by Dosunmu Moshood