Today, I once again stood before the Nigerian People to speak on the general principles and merits of the estimates of the 2016 Appropriation Bill brought by President Muhammadu Buhari before the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.
I did not mince words in saying that the 8thNational Assembly has given itself too short a time to do justice to the 2016 Appropriation Bill unlike congressional practice in the US which has Budget submitted to the congress 8 Months before the approval.
There should be a Law that mandates the current and future Nigerian Presidents to submit the annual budgets at a timely and appropriate period. I further pointed out that the N115Billion allocated to National Assembly representing only 1.8% of the whole budget of N6.08Trillion will not be shared by Senators & Honourables but includes the expansive staff strength of the National Assembly which are as large as that of any government ministry.
This also includes resources to National Assembly Staff Commission NASC and the National Institute of Legislative Studies NILS. It is therefore unfair to portray the impression that it is because of the profligacy of the National Assembly that Nigeria has economic challenges. It is rather due to the profligacy of the entire nation.
The United States has up three research departments that independently conduct researches on Budget with the Congressional Budget Office being the most respected. This is what we hope to achieve in the 8thassembly with the National Assembly Budget and Research Office NABRO.
In furtherance, I pointed out that about 54% of the Annual Budget of the US comes from tax, suggesting that we must expand our tax system as a Nation. If we want to move this country forward, we must begin to tax cigarettes and alcohol; we must begin to tax allowances and the parking tolls in our airports must be per hour.
In conclusion, as a Country we must sit down to decide our areas of priority. We cannot keep on fighting ourselves for increased allocation to different sectors of the economy without a goal. I believe we must focus on Education as the 6 – 7% we are budgeting for Education is not enough. There is no greater infrastructure in any country than the minds of the young ones. We must equally reduce the cost of governance as a nation. We must jettison the use of extravagant cars by Judges, Senators & Ministers and follow the likes of Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo in going back to ‘Operation Low Profile’ of using Peugeot 504 Cars.