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Ondo rep: In a democracy, legislature is the husband, executive the wife
Bode Ayorinde, member representing Owo/Ose constituency of Ondo State at the National Assembly, has likened Nigeria’s democracy to a home where the legislative arm of government is the husband and the executive arm, the wife.
Ayorinde gave the analogy during AIT’s Focus Nigeria on Tuesday, while trying to explain why the 2018 budget has not been passed despite its presentation to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari since October 2017.
According to him, the executive, as the wife, prepares a budget for the home and presents to the husband, the legislature, who now takes a critical look at the budget and decides whether to add some more items to it or remove items that he deems unnecessary.
“The executive is the wife, in a democracy, the legislature is the husband. The wife prepares a budget for the home and presents to her husband. He now looks at it and decides what to add and what to remove,” Ayorinde said.
He stressed that the delay in passing the budget was to enable the National Assembly do the necessary scrutiny that would ensure that the budget is implemented to the letter when passed.
For instance, Ayorinde said the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) of the Buhari administration was supposed to cover three years, but there has been a lack of discipline on the part of the executive to stick to the approved MTEF.
“If you say you want to construct a three-kilometre road for N150 million, N50 million annually for three years, we expect that you should budget for the first year N50 million, second year N50 million, the third year N50 million. But if you bring N50 million this year, and you are bringing N150 million or N30 million next year, you need to bring another MTEF to now say ‘I’m adjusting the basis of my budget’.
“So there should be discipline from the preparation, because what you are bringing to us is an estimate, and if the discipline is not there to stick to the provisions of the MTEF, then there is the need for you to bring it annually, the purpose of the MTEF is [thus] defeated.”
Ayorinde said Nigerians ignorantly bash the National Assembly for delaying the budget when in fact the lawmakers should be applauded for ensuring that the budget document eventually signed into law is an implementable one.
He added: “I was driving through Asokoro yesterday when I saw a big white billboard [with the inscription]: ‘National Assembly, stop padding the budget, go and pass the 2018 budget’. I read it, I laughed [and said] democracy is beautiful because it gives everybody the opportunity to express himself.
“But the truth about it is that: are we padding budget? Who is the maker of the budget under the constitution? Is it not the National Assembly that makes the budget under the constitution?”
Ayorinde lamented that the uncooperative attitude of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, contributed to the delay in passing the budget.
“Let us appeal to the MDAs. Let the MDAs see the National Assembly as a necessary instrument of running democracy; not as a burden,” he said.
“As it is now, the MDAs see the National Assembly as a burden. When you see your husband as a burden, you can’t make progress. We [at the National Assembly] will always have questions (about the budget).
“We have a democracy now because of the National Assembly. Remove the National Assembly and we have a government. During the era, the executive was there, the judiciary was there. But we celebrate democracy because of the National Assembly. Let everybody in government recognise this fact.
“Nigerians should also ask, what is the percentage of implementation of the previous budget? And Nigerians cannot ask in their rooms. It is the National Assembly that will ask on their behalf.
“The one we approved last year, what is the level of implementation? An MDA comes to you, everything on salaries, released. Everything on overhead — to buy paper, to hold meetings — released. The capital that will improve the lives of the people, 20 per cent released, and you want us not to ask questions, then what is the purpose of electing us? So these are the reasons why the budget (is being delayed)?”