The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has accused the National Assembly of playing politics with the 2016 budget, saying that the budget submitted to the Presidency was unacceptable.
The party, in a statement signed by its chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, argued that the lawmakers erred in removing what it described as “critical portions” of the budget.
The party in the statement issued on Monday in Port Harcourt read: “We are shocked to read in the papers about the removal of some of the critical portions of the 2016 Budget by the National Assembly. These include the Coastal Railway project being jointly funded by Nigeria and China, for which a counterpart funding of N60bn was provided but which was completely removed by the National Assembly. While the Lagos – Kano provision was left untouched, the Calabar – Lagos line was inexplicably removed by the lawmakers. Also, the amount proposed for the completion of the Idu – Kaduna rail project which has reached an advanced stage was reduced by N8.7bn, a development which will make it difficult for the project to be completed. In addition, while the Executive had provided for the completion of all major road projects across the country, the National Assembly reduced the amounts provided and instead included new roads which studies have not even been conducted.
“As if that is not enough, in the health sector, proposals made for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like Polio and AIDs for which the store is fast depleting were removed and the amounts allocated to provision of ambulance, which the ministry did not ask for. Besides, certain provisions made in the areas of Agriculture and Water Resources to further the Federal Government’s diversification project where either removed or reduced while the funds were moved to provision of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere.
“Some hawks within NASS are saying that the missing portions are not contained in the budget in the first instance but we are aware that in the amended budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari last January after the dust had settled over the ‘missing budget’, the sum of N80 billion was included for the Calabar – Lagos rail project in the amended budget by the executive and submitted to NASS. After the submission, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, also followed up by presenting a document in defence of the Calabar – Lagos railway project to the National Assembly in order to ensure that it was passed as one of the subheads for the budget of his ministry. However, to our chagrin, this important aspect of the budget was removed for reasons we do not know.
“We wish to emphasise that this unholy act by NASS is unacceptable because these are some of the key projects with which the present administration can positively impact on the country’s economy and meaningfully touch the lives of the generality of Nigerians.
“We therefore appeal to our distinguished lawmakers not to fall into the hands of parochial and enemies of our nation by doing the needful to avoid being tagged as working against the common interest of the people of Nigeria. We plead very sincerely with our lawmakers not to play politics with this budget as it will go a long way in restoring hope and faith to our people.”