Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the 9th National Assembly is irrevocably committed to protecting the interests of the people through diligent discharge of its legislative duties.
The Speaker said this on Sunday in Lagos while speaking at the ”Gbaja 2019 End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme”.
Gbajabiamila said criticism that the 9th Assembly was a rubber stamp to the executive was not fair, saying the fact that the legislature was on the same page with the executive on issues of national interests did not make it a rubber stamp.
The Speaker added that he, like his colleagues in the National Assembly, was not elected to fight the executive and that lawmakers would disagree with the executive if there was the need to do so.
“People, naysayers, critics and people from other parties have said the 9th National Assembly is a rubber stamp to the executive.
“You know my reply when they say that to you? Tell them that you would rather have a rubber stamp National Assembly that will bring progress than the one that is fighting the executive without progress.
“This is because when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. This is not a rubber stamp National Assembly; this is a National Assembly that represents the people and is committed to their interests.
“The people of Surulere Federal Constituency 1 did not elect me to go and be fighting the executive; Is that what you asked me to go and do?
“Rather, you asked me to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders to deliver democratic dividends, part of which we are having today.
“This is a new dispensation where there will be checks and balances, there will be separation of powers, we will disagree with the executive when there is need to do so and agree with them if there is need.
“But our watchword will be the interest of the people. That is the oath which I and my colleagues swore to,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said the return of the country’s budget cycle to January to December was one of the greatest democratic achievements in the last 20 years.
He said the new cycle was a good development for progress as it would enhance planning and implementation of budget.
Gbajabiamila argued that late passage and signing of the budget was a major impediment to its proper implementation, saying that Nigerians should expect a paradigm shift from the new cycle.
‘Let me explain the January to December budget cycle better. The constitution says the budget cycle shall be from January to December or another time as prescribed by the National Assembly.
”But what the constitution intended is that January to December is the life span of the budget, and the reason for that is government can plan, investors can plan and there is enough time to execute what has been budgeted.
“We have had difficulty in implementation in the last 20 years like 40 per cent, 30 per cent, because of delay in passing and signing the budget.
“Investors lacked confidence, they could not plan because there is uncertainty because the constitution has been violated.
“So in the past 20 years, this is the first time we are having the January to December budget cycle and it took the emergence of the 9th Assembly to fulfil that constitutional provision,” he said.
On the border closure, Gbajabiamila said the measure was already yielding positive results by greatly boosting the capacity of rice farmers and had increased of local agricultural produce, especially rice.