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Friday, August 5

Padding: Don’t weaken National Assembly, says NLC

Padding: Don’t weaken National Assembly, says NLC

Comrade Ayuba Wabba

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday cautioned against using the budget padding controversy to weaken the leadership of the National Assembly or settle political scores.

In a statement in Abuja by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC said the controversy showed the weakness in the nation’s budgeting system and the fact that projects were not conceived and implemented based on needs of the people, but those behind the projects.

The congress added that rather than go after individuals, the government should look critically at the nation’s budgeting system, which has failed the people.

The statement reads: “The controversy over the padding of the 2016 budget is an incontrovertible evidence of the inherent weaknesses in our budgeting process and underscores the need for a thorough revisit.

“It also reveals the imperfections and distrust in project identification and implementation system and failure of the model of capital budgeting without a development plan framework. It shows that projects are not implemented according to needs-value or priority but who is behind which.

“In light of the foregoing, we wish to state that instead of going after individuals, government should do a soul-search and x-ray a budgeting system that fails to address the needs of the people.

“We caution against using the development to settle political scores or unduly weaken the National Assembly.

”A strong National Assembly is a necessity for a vibrant democracy. We urge Nigerians to be slow to anger in matters of this nature as they have little or no reason to be too trusting of any political office holder, so that in the end, they do not end up victims of other people’s wars.

”Even as vitriol and bile have risen, it is important to distinguish between genuine and phony constituency projects, for in truth, constituency projects are obligations owed constituents by lawmakers.

“Finally, we call for caution, because how the issues in contention are resolved will shape the direction of our democracy; deepen or weaken it. Equally important is the fact that it avails us an opportunity to revisit our budgetary system and the need for development planning”.

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