Wednesday 10 August 2016

Presidency Backs Dogara Over Budget Padding Crisis..

The presidency has finally revealed interesting details over the controversial 2016 budget padding crisis as it backs speaker Dogara.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara
The Presidency has backed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara by insisting that the 2016 budget, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, was not padded.
The embattled former chairman of Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin had accused Dogara of padding the budget and bribing some members of the legislature.
According to Punch, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mr. Ismail Kawu, made the Presidency’s position on the lingering crisis in the House of Representatives known when they appeared before the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress at the party’s headquarters.
The insisted that the budget was not padded. They told the party leaders that they were at the headquarters to make the Presidency’s position on the matter known.
However, this was not met with opposition. Members of the Transparency Group, a group of lawmakers backing the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, faulted the Presidency. The group insisted that the allegation of padding should be investigated instead of shouts that it was not padded.
Enang, while addressing journalists after the meeting on Tuesday, said, “I am here on the invitation of the APC leadership with my colleague (Kawu) to answer questions on the 2016 Appropriation Act.

“We have given explanation on every issue. There is nothing, to our knowledge, like padding of the budget. The budget, as assented to by the President, is the budget passed by the National Assembly and it is being executed.

“For now, the party is handling it as a domestic issue; a party issue. All of us have been told not to make public comments because the matter is still under consideration.

“We will not want to go into the details so that we will not breach the party’s directive or pre-empt the outcome of the party’s probe.’’
He added: “I will say we came here as persons who work as liaison officers on the budget. The party wanted us to make clarifications and we have made those clarifications.

“We will not draw any conclusion. Please, let us not go too far by mentioning any office. Let it be that two of us have appeared before the party.”
Enang further stated that there was nothing like padding in the legislature.
“In all our years of legislative engagement, we have yet to find in the legislative lexicon the word, ‘padding.’ When the budget is presented before the legislature, the legislature is to consider the budget and pass as it deems fit.

“So, what the legislature passes becomes the Appropriation Act upon assent. Therefore, any word which has yet to crystallise in legislative lexicon, you cannot hear us mention it.”
The Transparency Group sharply disagreed with Enang and urged him to advise President Buhari appropriately.
Speaking to Punch, one of the members of the group, Baballe Bashir revealed that the budget was for the nation and not an “avenue for a few persons to allocate huge resources to their areas to the exclusion of other areas simply because they are principal officers.”
He added, “With his vast experience as a former parliamentarian, what Enang should do is to advise the President to clean up the country’s budgetary process.

“This is not just about whether there is padding or not. Our budgeting process has problems that must be addressed. So, let him advise the President appropriately, looking at the allegations raised by Jibrin.”
He said the matter should be investigated and allegations verified before conclusions are reached. 
Another member of the group, Mr. Musa Soba, expressed surprise over Enang’s comments. He stated, “He must have been misquoted. We still feel there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation.”

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