Federal lawmakers should not pad the budget irrespective of the good it would serve their constituencies. It is wrong because padding adds financial burden to the budget and this could negate the objectives the executive arm intends to achieve with the budget. Moreover, the money, most times, goes into the pockets of the lawmakers.
I am of the opinion that all capital projects should be executed by the executive arm while our lawmakers’ responsibility should stop at lawmaking and oversight. When that is done, there would no excuse by the legislators to tamper with the budget prepared by the executive.
Ours is a country filled with surprises. In what way has the millions of poor Nigerians benefitted from the so-called constituency projects? Such fraudulent practices should come to an end.
Padding is an aspect of corruption. It is not right to pad a budget that has been submitted to the National Assembly by the President. In fact, there should be no mercy for those involved in padding. It does not matter who is involved. Instead of executing projects, the National Assembly should serve as an advisory body to the President on projects that should be executed in their constituencies.
Ideally, the legislature has no business handling capital projects, which should be the exclusive preserve of the executive arm. If there are projects to be executed in their constituencies, the lawmakers should bring such to the attention of the relevant ministries. The ongoing budget padding saga lends credence to my assertion that legislators should be stopped from executing constituency projects.
I am sure 90 per cent of Nigerians would kick against padding. Lawmakers who smuggle constituency projects into the budget have hidden agendas. Any right-thinking person would say it is not proper to pad budget. This practice has been going on for decades until God sent President Muhammadu Buhari to stop it. That is why many people are fighting him in order to ensure that he does not succeed.
If not for his honesty, Buhari would have signed the budget without delay. And there was no way Nigerians would have known what transpired.
I think we need constituency projects. The advantage of such projects is that they are conceived by lawmakers who know their constituencies and what the people need. They would help us to achieve even development across different parts of the country.
Instead of scrapping the idea, there should be a strict monitoring of the budget and its implementation. The idea of smuggling constituency projects into the budget is what I disagree with.
In the first place, what are we doing with a bicameral legislature? That others do it is not enough for us to do the same. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have caused us much sorrow. I would suggest that constituency projects be excluded from annual budgets because they do not add any value. If the inclusion of constituency projects continues in the budget, these crooks would continue to pad the budgets.
What I expect the lawmakers to do is to table their constituency projects before the executive in order for them to be included in the budget. But what we have seen is the opposite.
Interestingly, padding is an English word. But to my amazement, when I searched the word on Google, I saw the pictures of our lawmakers. Our leaders should show a good example now that the whole nation is bleeding. We want to see the benefit of the change we voted for.
Had democracy and its ideals not made us to jettison morality, constituency projects would, ordinarily, not have seen the light of the day. Saying that constituency projects breed corruption is like saying a thief steals solely to quench his thirst. On the contrary, constituency projects are among the many ways these politicians loot our collective resources. What is needed is a total overhaul of the leadership recruitment process.
Constituency projects are not new in this country. They have always been there. The issue raised naturally leads to another question: do constituency projects have a constitutional backing? If they are constitutional, padding the budget with the projects would be uncalled for. If this is what the lawmakers have been doing for decades, then Nigeria is in a deep trouble. Doing such is an illegal act and should be treated as a criminal offence. Those involved should face trial and sentence to jail. I still believe many things will be unravelled as the case unfolds. It is high time we brought to book those who have been feasting on the country. This will serve as deterrence to others. Severe punishment should be meted out to those who were involved in the scam.