The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has succinctly told Nigerians that his ministry may not deliver on its mandate, as the National Assembly has drastically reduced his budget.
The minister decried the National Assembly reduction of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway from N31 billion to N10 billion.
He also lamented the reduction of the 2nd Niger bridge budget from N15 billion to N10 billion and another N3 billion reduction from Okene-Lokoja-Abuja road budget.
He said the action of the National Assembly happened regardless of the fact that contractors are being owed N15 billion.
According to Fashola, more worrisome was that the National Assembly, after making those reduction, now went ahead to insert projects outside the purview of his ministry in the 2017 Appropriation Act by the National Assembly.
The action of the lawmakers, the former Lagos State governor said was improper. He argued that for the National Assembly to make such insertions after public hearings on the budget and defense of the fiscal estimates by the ministries have been concluded, was unfair to the Executive arm.
Fashola stated this on Thursday during an interactive session with editors.
He said, “What I have in my budget now is primary healthcare centers, boreholes.
“That was the meeting we had with the Acting President and that was the reason why the budget was not signed on time.
“We were asked to complete those abandoned projects; the budget of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced by the National Assembly from N31bn to N10bn.
“We are owing the contractors about N15bn and they have written to us that they are going to shut down.
“Also, the budget of the 2nd Niger bridge was reduced from N15bn to N10bn and about N3bn or so was removed from the Okene-Lokoja-Abuja road budget.’
“Everybody is complaining about power supply but they also cut the budget for Mambila power project and the Bodo bridge that connects the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Station was also cut and all these were also discussed.
“If after we have defended the budget and we had gone and the legislature unilaterally changed the budget, what is the purpose of deliberation?’’
Fashola added that the National Assembly was also not fair to Nigerians to have after public hearings were conducted with taxpayers’ money, they went back to alter, cut or padded the budget.
Accusing the lawmakers of giving him additional 100 roads aside the 200 uncompleted roads he inherited from the previous administration he said, “These roads are not federal roads and some of them do not have designs, how do we award roads that were not designed irrespective of the power you have?
“It is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to legislate on state roads.
“A budget is an estimation plan that set in motion what is to be spent, how much will be borrowed and how much will be collected.
“The executive controls all the machinery for collecting taxes and other revenue with relevant data from the Ministries of Finance, Physical Planning and the Budget Office and others.
“I am not saying that the legislature cannot contribute to the budget, but I hold the view that it cannot increase the budget because they do not collect the revenue with which to run or implement the budget.”
He therefore called for interdependence and collaboration among the three arms of government as against their present independence, to ensure a harmonious relationship.
Without interdependence, Fashola said the country would not make progress and would be bogged down by the politics of total separation of power.
“The society benefits more from the power of example and interdependence rather than the example (show) of power; it requires that we show good examples’.’
While the minister called on the judiciary to set the necessary parameters and set things right, he advised the electorate to stop putting pressure on the lawmakers and shun expecting them to do what was outside their constitutional duties of law-making, representation and oversight.
“There is need for mass orientation and enlightenment for Nigerians not to expect their elected representatives to provide roads, water, light and execute capital projects which is the function of the executive arm”’