By Philip Agbese
A lot has been said about the 2024 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu. I recall a mention of an empty budget submitted without details. I struggle to come to terms with such a position. It is a no-brainer. However, we must be assured that there is no way such would work, not even in a banana republic.
As a member of the House of Representatives, I am aware that the budget proposal submitted came with the necessary details on income and expenditures. Let no one be troubled. The onus should be shifted to the House Committee on Appropriation headed by Hon Abubakar Kabir Bichi to do what is needed to scrutinize the budget proposal adequately.
This is indeed an acid test for the Appropriation Committee. It must rise to the occasion. It must not be business as usual. This is how the system can work for the good of the people. I am an ardent believer in transparency and accountability. These are the hallmarks of sustainable growth and development. This is a fact.
The focus has shifted since the budget proposal is before the National Assembly. It is either we do a good job, or we perish. The reality on the ground is grim. This is not the time to play politics with the future of Nigerians. Please note that this position is not casting shadows on the budget proposal; instead, it states that the National Assembly has a role in ensuring that a better Nigeria is possible.
Excuses can be made in some instances, but not in this instance. Only one option is left: do the right thing, and Nigeria will be great. This is my charge to Hon Abubakar Bichi, the Appropriation Committee chairman.
I do not doubt his ability to stand out from the crowd when it matters most. He has demonstrated this attribute on several occasions, and this will be the same. His penchant for paying attention to details is commendable. This is one attribute that probably informed his chairmanship of the Appropriation Committee.
The Appropriation Committee has one of the broadest jurisdictions of any committee. It is responsible for appropriating funding for most of the federal government functions. This is well known to Hon Abubakar Bichi and other committee members. They are aware of the leadership position of the House of Representatives concerning transparency and accountability.
The Hon. Abubakar Bichi, I know, is a stickler for excellence, and I can go to sleep knowing that whatever comes out from the 2024 Appropriation bill would be in the interest of the people. In truth, it doesn’t look like the Appropriation Committee won’t do justice to the task before them.
If you know Hon Abubakar Bichi, you would agree with my position. He is such a passionate Nigerian whose worldview is in tandem with the principle of transparency. This is what is needed in our quest for sustainable growth and development. And this is the mantra of the 10th Assembly. The appropriation committee chairman is in tandem with this focus, and it would be reflected in the outcome of the 2024 appropriation bill before it.
This is also a charge to all stakeholders. The habit of heating the polity with assumptions is detrimental to restoring confidence in the polity. We must be circumspect in our engagements and public conduct. Casting aspersions on intents without any tangible evidence is counterproductive.
This is not the time for such an enterprise. Moreso, the task of fixing Nigeria does not rest on the shoulders of a few. The principle of structural functionalism comes in handy. Structural functionalism is a theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
This is common sense and the way forward. Gone should be the days when we expect magic to happen. The effort must be collective and without any form of malicious intent.
The executive arm of government has submitted a proposal to the legislative arm. The legislative arm is not a rubber stamp. Some processes and procedures must be followed. The appropriation committee is aware of this, and the chairman of that committee is a thorough legislator who has delivered when it matters most in previous national assignments.
The scrutiny of the 2024 Appropriation Bill would be encompassing. The outcome would be pleasant, and Nigerians would be proud of the efforts to set the agenda for a prosperous country.
The indices are in place. The leadership of the House of Representatives owes Nigerians that sacred responsibility and would see through this commitment. The onus now lies in the appropriation committee to do justice to the 2024 appropriation bill. I have no reservations about the outcome. Hon Abubakar Bichi has the capacity, which would come in handy at the end of the day.
Agbese is the deputy spokesperson of the House of Representatives.