President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja expressed disappointment with the conduct of members of the National Assembly with regards to the passage of budgets.
The president said the “tardiness” in the passage of budgets by the lawmakers, sometimes lasting seven months, delay completion of projects across the country. He urged more effort to speed up the process.
The president, who received a delegation of ‘Eminent and Respected Citizens of Niger State’ led by Garba Duba, a retired lieutenant general of the army, at the Presidential Villa, said the government’s achievements in ensuring better roads, rails, power and repositioning of the airports ”was in spite of the delays”. He prayed for more understanding and commitment to infrastructural development from the lawmakers.
“If the National Assembly takes seven months to pass a budget, then we should be commended for the much that we have achieved, and can still achieve,” Mr Buhari said.
“I personally feel very disappointed. I spoke with the leaders of the National Assembly on the issue that seven months is a long time to work on a budget,’’ he said.
Mr Buhari said ongoing efforts to improve road and rail networks across the country will be increased as infrastructural development remains paramount for improving the livelihood of Nigerians.
President Buhari told the delegation, which included Governor Abubakar Bello (Niger State), military and traditional leaders, that his administration will pay more attention to the stretch of 2,150km federal roads in the state.
On security, he said: “we cannot manage our communities and societies without security. A lot of resources are being diverted to provide security instead of going into infrastructural development.’’
The president reassured the delegation that his administration will stay focused on securing lives and property, fighting corruption and stimulating the economy for more progress.
President Buhari said the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria had been directed to increase monetary supports, through loans, to farmers in the next farming season, ”and ensure that farmers are not overwhelmed with the traditional demand for collaterals”.
“Traditional institutions and families can serve as guarantors because we cannot continue with that colonial style of asking for collaterals that people don’t have,’’ he added.
The president also commended the Chinese government for accepting to finance 85 per cent of Nigeria’s infrastructural development need.
“I thank you so much for coming. It is a good morale booster for me and the country that a State will bring a strong delegation to show appreciation for our efforts,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Mr Duba, who is a former military governor, commended the president for the significant stride in the repositioning of roads, rails and airports across the country.
He said Niger State still faced challenges of security along Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin Gwari-Kaduna roads. He urged the president to reinforce surveillance on the routes and also direct more attention on the construction of federal roads in the state.
The Etsu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, commended the president for providing exemplary leadership for the country.