Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tambuwal: Tough times

Unarguablythe most popular of the presiding officers of the House of
Representatives so far, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal is, however,
increasingly faced with the devil's option in navigating the
turbulence arising from the crisis in his party, the Peoples
Democratic Party, PDP and increasing muttering over alleged poor
implementation of the 2013 budget.
It was clear before the present crisis facing the Peoples Democratic
Party, PDP that Speaker Aminu Tambuwal had steered the House out of
many troubled waters.
He had along the way also garnered the support of the majority of the
members of the House. But from all indications, this support may
experience a little turbulence if the face-off between the two
factions of the party that emerged after the convention is not
Speaker Tambuwal it was learnt is pitched between the contending sides
in the increasingly messy intra party dispute that has put many in the
mainstream of the ruling party on edge.
Until now, the two contending sides have on the surface sought to
portray Tambuwal as a unifying force and a neutral person in the
However, as the 2015 elections draw closer, members are increasingly
being put under pressure to identify with their local patrons and
kingmakers at home who may decide their post-2015 political fortunes.
Under the present configuration, the new PDP by combining forces with
the opposition parties in the House is believed to have an edge in the
power equation. That would be good news for Tambuwal who as it is
generally known has not been a darling of the mainstream PDP led by
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Another challenge before the speaker would be how he manages the flow
of emotions arising from the recent oversight visits to the
Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs during which implementation
of the 2013 budget was assessed.
That would be a parameter for handling the 2014 budget. Various
committees that went on oversight came back with what some have
labelled satanic reports that question the implementation of the 2013
budget. The oversight carried out by most of the committees showed
poor releases of funds to the MDAs.
Many members who went on oversight it was learnt, argued that the
implementation of the 2013 budget is unacceptable with lamentations
about late releases of funds for capital projects of the 2013 budget.
In some cases, approvals were made but not cash backed, while in other
cases, it was claimed that the funds were released but they were
The Chairman House Committee on Information and Communications
Technology, Hon Shehu Gusau, APC, Zamfara after inspecting facilities
at the Federal Ministry of Communications vowed that his committee
would investigate the Minister of Finance and the Budget Office over
poor release of funds to some MDAs for the implementation of the 2013
Gusau had said the committee was appalled that the ministry whose
approved budget for capital projects for the 2013 fiscal year was over
N2 billion only received about N727 million with less than three
months for the year to run out.
"We're not impressed at all. This is October, but only 28.05 percent
of your approved budget has been released. What happens to the 72
percent now that it is less than three months to December, and you
must refund unspent funds by December 31?"
Other members of the committee also raised concerns with the way the
ministry's budget releases have been handled and assured of their
resolve "to get to the bottom of the matter."
House Committee on Upstream petroleum Resources:
Same story of poor implementation of the 2013 budget was also
re-echoed during an oversight visit to Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory
Commission by the committee. The chairman, House Committee on
Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Hon. Muraina Ajibola, had while
scrutinising the 2013 budget performance of the Nigerian Nuclear
Regulatory Authority (NNRA) observed that the delay of funds was
Reacting to the ugly situation, Ajibola noted that "as a parliament,
we are worried because we are not only tracking money released and
revenue generated, we are worried on the releases of money to fund the
budget. We are calling on the appropriate quarters to ensure that
releases are done as at when due."
Committee on Federal Capital Territory:
Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on FCT, Hon
Emmanuel Jime also decried the poor performance of the 2013 budget in
the territory so far. Jime (PDP, Benue) who stated this after his
committee took its oversight to examine the level of implementation of
the 2013 capital budget at the Karshi Satellite Town Infrastructure
project, regretted the non-release of funds to the contractor handling
the project to commence work.
"From what we saw, it is obvious that the performance is zero. In
fact, no money has been released yet to the contractor to start work,
and we're now in the third quarter with about three months left for
the year to run out.
"That is what we have been saying in the House of Representatives,
that the greatest problem facing us as a nation is that budget
performance is never taken seriously. And the House is always accused
of ulterior motive whenever we stress that budget should be
implemented as specified in the Act".
Other members of the committee also expressed concern over the
situation, saying the project should not have been awarded in the
first place if money was not available.
A member of the committee, Hon Jerry Manwe (PDP, Taraba), pointed out
that awarding contract without fund often result in upward reviewing
which does not augur well for government. But director of Satellite
Town Development Agency, FCDA, Engr. Ibrahim Tukur, told the Committee
that the Karshi Water project was awarded at the sum of N19.4 billion,
informing that the sum of N2 billion was about to be released.
The reports of these committees point to the fact that the
N4.6trillion budget passed by the National Assembly may still face a
lot of scrutiny as members resume after the Sallah festivities.
This scrutiny if not properly managed by Tambuwal and his men may lead
to another showdown between the executive arm of government and the
legislature. Tambuwal may have to watch his back at all times to save
his neck from being strangulated as the cracks in the House goes
beyond the ordinary.
The legislature may win more Nigerians to its side if the cracks are
properly amended by Tambuwal and the House leadership.

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