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2016 Budget: APC to drag National Assembly to court

The last has not been heard about the controversy over the removal of the Calabar-Lagos rail track by the National Assembly from the 2016 appropriation as All Progressives Congress, APC, has vowed to sue the lawmakers for tinkering with the budget proposal.
APC National Vice Chairman (South South), Prince Hilliard Eta, in a statement in Abuja yesterday said the party demands that the budget be reverted to its original form and all the development projects conceived and included in it by the Federal Government be retained without alteration. He said: “We shall approach the courts of the land for a clear interpretation of the role of the National Assembly in the passing of the national budget as it is evident that it overstepped its bounds by unnecessarily tinkering with the budget when its constitutional duty is mainly supervisory. “It is time we Nigerians begin to show a keen interest in the affairs of the legislature as only that can put a stop to the kind of shady alterations that the budget was subjected to while it was being evaluated by the National Assembly. “It is pertinent to at this point conduct a re-examination of the powers of the legislature to establish if really it has the power to doctor and alter projects or totally remove them from the budget even after the minister under whose ministry, the said projects fell under had credibly defended them and justified their inclusion.” Eta said APC in the South South zone is particularly disappointed by the Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Danjuma Goje and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who directly supervised and even actively abetted such debauchery. He accused Jibrin of diverting money meant for a project in the South South to his home state.

“The South South zone of the All Progressives Congress demands that the budget be reverted to its original form and all the development projects conceived and included in the budget by the federal government be retained without alteration. “We also advise the legislature to refrain from giving the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari a bad image by attempting to deprive Nigerians of the dividends of democracy under any guise. “We are very upset that our representatives at the National Assembly would discard decorum and hinder progressive change by acting at variance with the infrastructure development agenda of the APC-led federal government. “The arbitrary removal of the Lagos – Calabar rail track by the National Assembly from the 2016 budget is a display of depraved indifference to the welfare of Nigerians. “The deletion is not just arbitrary; it is a big disservice to the people of Nigeria, particularly the South South zone, which the proposed railway track would have traversed. “Also, the total rehabilitation of the collapsed and terrible Calabar – Odukpani –Itu – Ikot Ekpene federal highway which was allotted N6bn by the federal government in the budget was doctored and almost N5bn removed and reallocated to a non-existent project in the constituency of the Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, in Kano State.

“By these two acts, the Senate and House of Representatives displayed the astonishing contempt in which they hold Nigerians. “The National Assembly exists to ensure that Nigerians get the best from their government, using the instrument of purposeful legislation but the 8th Assembly by this budget padding debacle, has not only brought itself to ridicule, it has also proved itself unworthy of the trust and confidence of Nigerians,” he added. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Anti-Corruption has refuted reports that the National Assembly padded the 2016 budget estimates for the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB. There was a report that the CCB budget was padded to the tune of N4bn. Chairman of the Committee, Babajide Akinloye in a statement yesterday, described the report as gross falsehood and total

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