2017 Budget: We will give maximum support to President Buhari – Dogara

Nigerian lawmakers will give maximum support to President Muhammadu Buhari and ensure that his government is not humiliated in the ongoing deliberations over the 2017 proposed budget, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said Monday.

Mr. Dogara said the National Assembly took this decision because most of its members and Mr. Buhari all belong to the same political party, the All Progressives Congress.

“I must say that the APC as the party with majority in the National Assembly will not allow Mr. President and the APC as the ruling political party to be humiliated or defeated on its budget priorities as we are all part of the same government,” Mr. Dogara said.

He made the comments when he addressed a round-table on the N7.29 trillion budget proposal organised by governors on the platform of the APC in Abuja Monday morning.

The Speaker also noted that lawmakers across political aisles believe that constituency matters are very crucial to their activities as lawmakers.

“It is however, important to stress that on budget matters members of the National Assembly tend to be very sensitive to their constituency representational functions, irrespective of party,” Mr. Dogara said in an apparent reference to the controversial culture of earmarking funds for lawmakers to carry out projects in their respective constituency.

The practice has come under heavy criticism in recent years, and the call for its abolition peaked in the wake of the budget padding scandal that broke out in 2016.

Critics say the so-called constituency projects line items mostly serve as a conduit for lawmakers to syphon public funds into their pockets because they are often poorly executed or, in most cases, never carried out.

Mr. Dogara updated the governors on the progress so far made by the National Assembly in the ongoing debates about the 2017 budget and promised better transparency and accountability in its passage and implementation.

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Adeeko Ademola

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