2017 Budget Debate: N45bn allocation to north-east insufficient — Senator Baba Kaka
As the senate continued debate on the 2017 budget on Wednesday, a lot of controversies sprung up calling for more scrutiny of the appropriation bill submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari. Prominent among these was the demand for the details of the budget details as most lawmakers queried low allocations to key areas of our economy, like the health and education sector. Another highlight of the debate was the move by Senator Baba Kaka Garba (Borno Central), who argued that the N45 billion allocation in the 2017 budget for rebuilding the north-east, ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency was too meager, considering the quantum of damage done in states affected by this insurgency. The budget of the National Assembly has been shrouded in secrecy since 2010 when the then Senate President, Senator David Mark made it a single line item on the Nation’s budget. Contributing to the debate, the former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume said the details of the National Assembly budget must be made public. ” We come here to pass the budget without seeing the details. This is government of change and this must change. The details of the budget report should and as required must be considered holistically. ” The budget of the senate is not known to the senators, it should be known this year, this is very important because we cannot be taking blames or hold credit for what we don’t know. Mr. President if you look at 2016 budget, yes we have been given the budget performance but what budget 2016 contain in relation to 2017 budget is not available,”he said. Our correspondent reports that months after he emerged as the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki pledged to make the details of the National Assembly budget public following the outcry by the public. At the peak of the consideration of the 2016 budget, Saraki shifted the goal post to after the passage of the budget. When the budget was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2016, he is yet to fulfil the pledge. The National Assembly budget started swelling in 2003 when it was jerked up from N23.347 billion to N32.229 billion in 2004. In 2005, N55.422 billion was budgeted , 2006 N39.810 billion, 2007, N66.488 billion, 2008, N104.825 billion, 2009,N96.052 billion and 2010 N154.2 billion was budgeted. From 2010 to 2014 ,the budget of the federal legislature stood at N150 billion until 2015 when it was slashed to N120 billion. Again, it was slashed down to N115billion in 2016 and same amount is allocated to the lawmakers in this year’s budget. Speaking further, Ndume advocated for the increase of allocation to the North East geopolitical zone. ” The world contributed as at December 2016 last year, about N130 billion to North East while Nigeria budgeted N12 billion for the region. Out of the amount only N3 billion was released. ” Distinguished colleagues, we are in an emergency situation I beg you we need help. This is an emergency situation, I swear to God somebody will die today because of hunger related issue in the northeast.As I tell you, 22 local governments have been recovered but there are no villages,” he said. Also contributing to the budget debate, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (APC, Sokoto), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (APC, Kano), Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano), and Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi) advocated for the allocation of more funds to the Agriculture, Education, Solid Minerals and Industry sectors for the diversification of the country’s economy and reduction of poverty. In his contribution, Senator Yele Omogunwa (APC, Ondo) said corruption in the country has been legalized and advocated for the entrenchment of the plea bargain to address the challenge. For his part, Senator Mallam Ali Wakili (APC, Bauchi) expressed dismay that key project
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