By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja
Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu yesterday picked holes in the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget estimate.
He, therefore, called for thorough legislative scrutiny of the annual estimate to ensure that it reflects the general aspiration of over 200 million Nigerians.
Elumelu who is a member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, affirmed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, adding that though the House had resolved to pass the budget before the end of the year but insisted that the details, particularly the capital expenditure items and implementation modules must meet the yearning of Nigerians before the budget is passed into law.
The lawmaker also noted that the opposition “recognizes the fact that Nigerians look up to them to protect their interest on critical issues that directly affect their lives, particularly on budget planning and implementation in key sectors.”
On this premise, he vowed that the details of the N2.46 trillion capital budget must be dissected and adjusted accordingly, to ensure that critical needs of Nigerians are adequately accommodated while eliminating waste and budgetary corruption at every stage.
In his words, “Given the sorry state of our infrastructure, the opposition must ensure that the votes earmarked by Mr. President Buhari for the rehabilitation of roads, power infrastructure, health services, agriculture, water resources, education, among other critical sectors are thoroughly scrutinized to guarantee full implementation as well as reflect the federal character principle across board”.
The minority leader also frowned at reports that certain committees barred the media from covering their budget defence sessions.
He, therefore, insisted that budget defence must be in the open and more so, transparent, so that Nigerians are fully carried along in all the processes leading to budgetary decisions in all critical sectors.
Further, Elumelu has directed all opposition members in various committees to ensure strict compliance with the democratic principles of transparency, accountability and prudence in the budget planning as well as in the implementation oversight of both the capital and recurrent components.
The lawmaker even guaranteed that there must be thorough monitoring of the implementation of the special intervention funds for the unemployed as well as the welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East and other parts of the country to ensure that the money is not diverted as allegedly witnessed in the past under a former Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF).
He added that the opposition would take critical look at all revenue projections from Value Added Tax (VAT) and other tax regimes so as to ensure equity and fairness as well as guarantee that the masses are not overburdened in the process.