PHILIP NYAM reports on the two-day debate session by the House of Representatives that passed through second reading of the 2024 proposed budget presented by President Bola Tinubu
On November 29, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu presented his first budget estimate to a joint session of the National Assembly. It however took the House of Representatives just two days to pass the N27.5 trillion money bill through second reading.
First day of debate
The House leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo) moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by the minority leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers). Ihonvbere, in leading the debate, stated that the budget proposal for 2024 is a reality, looking into critical issues such as availability of resources, options of funds, performance of previous budgets and percentage of appropriations of available funds for all critical areas.
He commended President Tinubu for focusing on the development of critical infrastructure in the budget proposal and stressed the need for tackling insecurity, health/educational development, roads and other physical infrastructure, as well technological development for securing the future of the Nigerian youth. The parameters, he noted “have been taken care of in the provisions of funds in this budget of ‘Renewed Hope.’ Supporting the bill, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) expressed joy that appreciable funds were budgeted for capital projects.
He also praised the effort to be expended in the diversification of the Nigerian economy and the vision to tackle unemployment as this will make the youth gainfully engaged. He called for proper oversight by the parliament to ensure that funds budgeted for, are judiciously expended for optimal performance. In his contribution, Bello Kumo (APC, Borno) stated that the budget has the critical role of steering Nigeria into prosperity and stability. He commended President Tinubu for bringing forth a realistic budget proposal and expressed optimism that the provisions of the budget will ensure the good and prosperity of Nigerians.
Adedeji Olajide (PDP, Oyo) praised the eloquence and forthrightness of the budget presentation by President Tinubu stating that the budget seems to be a good foundation for development in diverse critical areas to move Nigeria forward. Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) praised the content and context of the budget proposal pointing out that the foundation for a “Renewed Hope” was duly highlighted in the proposal in the aim of fulfilling his campaign promises to Nigerians. He singled out security, healthcare delivery and quality/affordable education for Nigerians, which the budget seeks to do.
Ali Isa commended the speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, for his speech at the budget presentation, which captured the heartbeat of Nigerians and for ensuring the participation of Nigerians in the budget process through the proposed town hall engagement. Also, speaking, Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) praised the aim of synchronisation of federal and state governments’ efforts to ensure the success of the 2024 budget. This, he stated, will ensure success for the good of Nigerians. He called for the blockage of financial leakages in the Nigerian economy and cleaning up of the IPPIS and cutting down on personnel cost in governance.
Francis Waive (APC, Delta), in his contribution, praised the realistic benchmarks in the budget proposal and expressed optimism for its success. He further expressed optimism that if properly implemented, Nigeria can return to a profitable economy. He also praised some policies of President Tinubu, which have seen the economy begin to make a good comeback. Patrick Umoh (APC, Akwa Ibom) stated that the budget is capable of jumpstarting the Nigerian economy.
He called on his colleagues to partner with the Executive in adherence to oversight rules to ensure a successful budget implementation. Ayodeji Alao-Akala (APC, Oyo) in his contribution supported the budget as its contents revolved around the yearnings of Nigerians. He also praised the aim for creating an enabling environment for small and medium businesses to thrive. Muktar Shagaya (APC, Kwara) expressed happiness at the vast areas of socioeconomic development for Nigerians in the budget.
He expressed honour at being a member of the 10th Assembly and vowed to contribute his quota for the success of the budget. Mohammed El-Rufai (APC, Kaduna) praised the honesty in Mr. Speaker’s speech and hoped that the government will overcome the abounding challenges. He called for practi- cal tackling of all critical sectors appropriated for. He called for the implementation of the Oransanye Report and to merge similar agencies together to reduce duplication and over bloated governance.
Abubakar Fulata called for the scrutiny of players in the foreign exchange sector and clean-out round-tripping, which is ripping the Nigerian economy apart. He also called for a state of emergency on the foreign exodus of the best brains or Nigerians.
Day two of debate
When the House reconvened on Friday, the Deputy Leader of the House, Abdullahi Halims (APC, Kogi) moved for the resumption of the debate and it was seconded by the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda. Kafilat Ogbara (APC, Lagos) expressed enthusiasm and fulfillment at the outlines of the budget, saying it reflects the yearnings of Nigerians. She commended President Tinubu on such a people-oriented budget. She also commended the idea of making people participate in the budget process. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim (APC, Yobe), in her contribution, commended President Tinubu for introducing a budget that increases capital spending, reduces deficit and ensure economic development.
She also commended the rejigging of the security apparatus of Nigeria. She called for more efforts to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians as a result of the fuel subsidy removal as normal wages doesn’t cater for people anymore without them borrowing to supplement. Clement Jumbo (APC, Akwa Ibom) praised the budget outline but queried the present constitution of the National Planning Commission, which promotes policies for planning for equity in distribution of resources. He called for a reawakening of the Commission to help ensure the practical application of the benefits of the budget for all Nigerians. Victor Nwokolo (PDP, Delta), in his contribution praised the budget on many aspects but faulted a shortage in provision for the improvement of the power sector.
This he stated is an oversight as the power sector is the backbone of production, manufacturing, quality healthcare development, uninterrupted relaying of security information within security agencies for real time response. Pascal Abodike (APGA, Anambra) called on his colleagues to painstakingly scrutinise the budget stressing the need for the provisions of the budget to adequately handle insecurity as development can only come about in a peaceful nation. Inuwa Garba (PDP, Gombe) stressed the need for proper budgetary scrutiny on the part of the Legislature to ensure Nigerians remain the principal beneficiaries.
He urged his colleagues to ensure what is passed is judiciously implemented. Hon. Garba also stressed the need to ensure absolute security is attained and maintained in Nigeria. But George Ozodinobi expressed worry at the estimated revenue for Nigeria saying if not properly managed, will leave the bulk of those expectations on overburdened/taxed importers and the Nigerian business class. He called on his colleagues to work with the little time they have to properly scrutinize and bring out a budget of a truly renewed hope for Nigerians. Blessing Amadi (PDP, Rivers) expressed hope that the administration of the budget will cure the pains and hunger of Nigerians as the economic times are indeed hard.
She called for proper oversight to ensure the benefits of the budget trickles down to all Nigerians. Agbedi Frederick (PDP, Bayelsa) stressed the need for proper budgetary allocation for transportation, especially for those who rely on marine transportation for those in the riverine communities. He stated that since the removal of the fuel subsidy regime, the cost of marine transportation has tripled. Ginger Onwusibe (LP, Abia) expressed worry at the budgetary allocation for education as it falls short of the UNESCO recommendation. He also called for better provisions for the healthcare sector, in order for it to be always ready in case of any unforeseen incidents.
Dominic Okafor (APGA, Anambra) called for the strengthening of the private sector to adequately drive the economy and build up the wealth creation base. In his presentation, Cyril Godwin (PDP, Rivers), criticised the poor management of the critical oil sector, which is directly responsible for oil theft and smuggling. He also criticised the lip service by the government in this regard and wondered why the International Oil Companies are not made to meet up with the requirement of community development, investments and corporate social responsibility.
Ahmed Munir (APC, Kaduna), in his contribution stressed the need for collaboration between all sectors of the economy to ensure that the dream of a better Nigeria is attained. He called on committees of the House to work together to ensure all agencies work in unison for the proper implementation of the budget.. Ozurigbo Ugonna (PDP, Imo) praised the outline of the budget and expressed hope that the promise for the complete rehabilitation of the three national oil refineries is achieved as this will go a long way in developing the critical oil sector.
He also called for the sustenance of the funding of development programs aimed at ensuring former militants are trained to ensure they remain positively self-reliant in different sectors of the economy. Aliyu Madaki (NNPP, Kano) praised the spirit of the budget and stressed that if properly implemented; will develop the lives of Nigerians. He stressed that the budget is one of hope as there is nothing to be renewed due to the fact that Nigerians had gone through horrible times in the last 8 years. Also speaking, Hon. Paul Nnamchi (LP, Enugu) called for increment in the budgetary allocation to education in order to make it more attractive and desirable for the future of Nigerians.
He further called for the extension of the rail tracks linking the Southeastern parts to other regions of the nation. Obuku Oforji (PDP, Bayelsa) praised the budgetary allocation for security as different regions of the whole nation seemed to have been unsafe for Nigerians to live and thrive. He praised the accommodation of the student loans scheme in the budget and also called for an enabling environment for public-private partnership to thrive as that will ensure private sector development that translates into socioeconomic development. Gboyega Isiaka (APC, Ogun) appreciated the concerns of Nigerians to the success of the budget and expressed optimism that the trends and policies being implemented, though initially painful; will definitely lead to a stronger Nigeria.
He further called for the strengthening of national institutions to properly implement government policies. Felix Nweke (PDP, Rivers) called for an increase in the budget for education and security, especially security within the Federal Capital Territory. He also called for sincerity of security personnel, especially on the high seas as a lot of crude oil theft occurs and seems to be left to slide for selfish reasons. He stressed the need to strengthen the Naira against the Dollar for the business sector to thrive and for affordability of goods and services.
Similarly, Olufemi Ogunbanwo (APC, Ogun) called for the scrutiny of the debt servicing against capital expenditure, while seeking for more patronage of locally manufactured goods and the reduction in the cost of governance. Ja’far Shettima stressed the need for educational development, especially in northern Nigeria where the effects of insecurity have totally depleted the level of education to almost total abandonment. He called for proper allocation for security in the north so that education will not totally collapse. Eze Nwachukwu (APC, Ebonyi) praised the Speaker Abbas for his address during the budget presentation and expressed optimism that if the speaker’s recommendations are implemented, Nigeria will be the better for it.
He however expressed worry that the effects of previous budgets are hardly seen or abandoned in the localities. Famous Osawaru (PDP, Edo) praised the diversity of players within the democratic sphere at the moment, which should lead to better checks and balances. He expressed dismay at the inability of Nigeria to provide universal healthcare, quality education and an enabling environment for graduates to be gainfully employed. Auwalu Gwalabe (PDP, Bauchi) expressed optimism that the current budget proposal will live above the norms of previous budgets and called on all Nigerians to ensure proper implementation. Usman Balami (PDP, Borno) commended President Tinubu for the budget presentation. He however called for strict implementation of the budget for the benefits to reach down to all Nigerians.