By Dipo Awojobi – The Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as other principal officers fingered in the budget padding scandal in the House have been advised to step down for proper investigation into the matter.
A lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Moshood Oshun, who was reacting to the matter, said that he could not reach any conclusion on the matter until the whole thing is made clearer, added that the matter should be handled with caution.
“If we are saying that the Speaker should step down, other people that were accused with him should step down. I am not a member of the Federal House of Representatives, but if he steps down, what happens after that, will he be allowed to go back to the seat if he is innocent.
“Many people were complaining, when President Muhammadu Buhari delayed in signing the 2016 budget, but if what is happening now is substantiated, that means he was right,” he said.
Oshun stressed that one of the primary functions of the legislature is to approve budget by looking at the economy of the country and the available fund, adding that the legislators need to know what the people want.
The lawmaker said that it is not enough to say one wants to build a hospital, when what the people need is a school, saying that a legislative house has the right to either reduce the budget, leave it as it is or increase it depending on what they feel the people need.
Oshun, who is representing Lagos Mainland 2 in the Assembly, said that there has been allegations and counter allegations over the issue, but that the people still need to wait to see the end of the matter.
“Dogara said it did not happen and the former chairman of the appropriation committee, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin said that it was padded after it had been approved by the House. So, the whole thing has to be investigated.
“Inviting the EFCC and ICPC to investigate the matter would reduce the power of the House because the House has the right to regulate itself.
“The legislators have the right to reduce or increase the budget once they feel it is good for the benefit of the people.
“If the House feels that a project, like a hospital is needed in Lagos Mainland for instance, we would approve it regardless of the contractor that would handle it. Where I have problem is when something is added after the budget has been passed by the House,” he said.
The lawmaker, who chairs the House Committee on Public Accounts (State) explained that if the budget is debated on the floor of the House and members agreed, then there should be no problem about its content.
He emphasised that it was not wrong for the House to have a team to discuss with the executive to work on the budget for the purpose of the people, for the interest of Nigerians.
He said: “We don’t have to fight because we belong to different arms of government. What we should be interested in is to do things that would benefit the people. As legislators, we are representing the people.”