The Minister of Power, Workers and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said on Monday that it was wrong for the legislature to unilaterally seek to increase the national budget.
Fashola, who made this remark as one of the panelists at the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, stated that the major responsibility of the legislature was representation.
He maintained that since the federal lawmakers had no powers to collect tax, they did not possess the right to unilaterally increase the budget.
The minister, who spoke on the topic, ‘The Role of the Legislature and Executive in the Budget Process,” expressed the need for collaboration between the two arms of government in the budget process and added that this would help to avoid friction.
Fashola said, “I like to say that it is not appropriate for parliament to unilaterally seek to increase the budget because they do not collect taxes.
“I think there should be collaboration between the executive and the legislature in the budgeting process. In this process, clear lines should be drawn because compromise is better achieved where all parties know their rights.”
The minister, however, added that all parties must respect the rights of the other in embracing such collaboration, even as he urged lawmakers to nominate constituency projects that would be to the benefits of their constituencies as against their personal interests.
“If we say constituency projects, we must make sure they are not senators’ projects. Even if they were nominated by senator or state lawmakers, they must be the projects that the constituency own.
“In cases where the lawmaker who started the project is not returned, the person who takes over should continue the project. This is not the case we have.
“What we see are new legislators coming and starting their own projects. In my ministry, we have over 200 constituency projects with no parentage. I have said we must finish these projects, but people are nominating new ones. I said we must finish the old ones,” Fashola said.
The minister advised the lawmakers to resolve their disagreements based on party affiliations and work for the common good of the country.
In his remark, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Chibudom Nwuche, called for a joint project office between the executive and the legislature in the development of budgets.
Explaining that such measures would save the system from friction, Nwuche maintained that constituency projects should be in the interest of Nigerians.