The All Progressives Congress, APC, controlled House of Representatives has set stiff hurdles for the passage of the 2014 Federal Government budget including a comprehensive answer to the 50 questions on the economy presented to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Elements in the emerging new leadership of the House who disclosed this yesterday also said that the 2014 budget must be scrutinised to ensure that it meets the felt needs of Nigerians.
The lawmakers who spoke to Vanguard ahead of next week’s resumption of the House of Representatives ruled out early passage of the N4.6 trillion budget presented to the House by Okonjo-Iweala last December.
Among those who spoke are the presumptive Majority Leader in the emerging new leadership, Femi Gbajagbiamila, spokesman of the House,Zakari Mohammed and a member of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ogbonna Nwuke representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency.
Submitting that the budget would be treated according its merit, Gbajagbiamila said yesterday that the proposal laid before the House of Representatives by the president through Okonjo-Iweala was hurriedly and unprofessionally coupled up by the executive.
“The budget looks hurriedly prepared, sloppy and unprofessionally done. There are manifest errors that one is unsure if they are due to carelessness or intentional which would make it a fraudulent document. We will look at the proposals and go through them with a fine tooth comb and heighten scrutiny with only one objective…to give Nigeria and Nigerians a workable budget, credible and implementable,” he said.
Continuing, Gbajagbimila who is set to assume the office of Majority Leader in the House following the emergence of APC as the leading party in the House said the minister of finance would also be made to answer the 50 questions bothering on the economic conditions of the country posed to her at the end of last year by the House committee on finance. At a meeting before the House committee on finance on December 20, 2013, the minister was given a 50 question home work to answer mostly dealing with key economic indicators.
“We will wait for the Finance Minister to give satisfactory answers to the questions posed by the Committee that oversights her and her ministry. Her answers or non-answers will determine the next step. But the House is determined to unearth the rot in our economic system,” Gbajagbiamila stressed.
Lending his voice also, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke underscored the necessity of a workable budget for the country in 2014, revealing that the budget was not an asset of the Executive or the President. Saying that Okonjo-Iweala must answer the 50 questions posed by the House committee on finance, he said: “I think the House Committee on Finance was in order to have raised those questions. Okonjo-Iweala owes Nigerians the responsibility to explain those issues. And these are economic issues she is expected to deal with; issues that we think she deals with on daily basis. So, the people’s representatives are asking questions. She has to say what transpires under her watch. I believe she has the responsibility to answer those questions.
“The issue of whether or not she has been treated respectfully is immaterial now. What is material in my opinion is that Okonjo-Iweala should answer those questions. They are not personal questions. They are probing questions which will give lawmakers greater insights as to how the economy has been managed; questions which will prove that under her watch, we have had good management given the tags she goes with as the one who oversees the economy. So, there are so much at stake.