• Thursday, February 29, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Reps speakership: Gadgi pledges to end funding of oversight by MDAs

House Committee chair on appropriation wins return ticket

Yusuf Gagdi, the member representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam federal constituency of Plateau State, has formally declared to contest for the position of the speaker of the House of Representatives in the 10th Assembly.

The chairman, House committee on Navy made the declaration in Abuja on Saturday when he also unveiled his action plan titled: ‘The Gagdi Plan; One Nation, Forward Together’ and launched a Compendium of his Four Years Mandate.

Gagdi promised to end the practice where ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) fund National Assembly to carry out overnight on them by putting in place a budget for the execution of that all important functions of the parliament.

He said it was an aberration of democratic practice for the oversight committees of the National Assembly to depend on the executive agencies under their purview to fund oversight activities.

According to him; “The purpose of oversight is to ensure that
government resources are used efficiently and effectively for the public good and that the exercise of executive power is within the constraints defined by law.

“For the 10th House of Representatives to
perform this function optimally, oversight reports will be laid and considered on the floor as per the Standing Orders. They will also be published on a dedicated website open to the public as part of efforts to improve transparency and open government.

“The oversight responsibilities of parliament often require travel and other logistics. Without funding, committees often rely on the agencies under their supervision to fund oversight activities. This is a constitutional aberration.

“To correct this anomaly, oversight funding for House Committees will be financed through the regular appropriations process. Standing Committees in the 10th Assembly will be required to prepare and defend their annual budgets for consideration and passage as part of the appropriations process.”

Gagdi also said under his leadership, the operations of the House will be open to Nigerians so that they understand why it exists and why it is worthwhile to expend scarce resources on its operations.

“We need to ensure that the disenfranchised voices in our country are given an audience on the chamber floor and representation in the halls of the legislature. We need to make the House of Representatives a place of, an arena of patriotic and intelligent discourse and enlightened, informed decision-making,” he promised.

He also said if elected speaker, the country would change from an annual to a biennial budget process to give the executive adequate time to fund and implement budgeted projects, provide more certainty in the operation of federal activities, and allow lawmakers more
time to focus on oversight and longer-term policy development.

The speakership hopeful further said an emerging trend of ministries, departments and agencies budgeting for and executing projects outside their core competence will be ended to stop the perennial issue of duplication of projects across multiple MDAs.

Gagdi said the 10th House of will seek to pass a bill establishing the Budget Office of the Federation as a statutory body empowered by law to manage the budget functions and processes of the Federation.

Read also: Reps’ speakership: Niger Delta group roots for Abia-born Benjamin Kalu

“Additionally, the Budget Office Law will define budget offences and their penalties and empower the Budget Office to drive enforcement of these provisions,” he said.

The former deputy speaker of the Plateau state House of Assembly also said, constitutional reforms, granting local government autonomy, separation of Attorney general office from Justice ministry, enforcement of legislative summons; justice, police reforms; national security, economic growth, pubic health, education and human capital development will be prioritised.

Gagdi appealed to the leadership of his party, the all All Progressives Congress (APC) and other stakeholders to cede the position of the speaker to North-central geopolitical zone which has not gotten the slot since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The 42 years old lawmaker also appealed to stakeholders and members-elect to support his aspiration for the speakership as a way of youth inclusion and legislative capacity, having sponsored several bills with six assented to by the president within three years in the Green Chamber.

“The manifesto I am presenting to you today articulates the internal reforms of the House of Representatives I intend to pursue as Speaker, as well as the policy priorities I intend to champion through the legislative process.

“I am presenting this document today because I want to initiate a national conversation about what the proper function of parliament in our country ought to be. It is also my desire to ensure that the campaign for the speakership of the 10th House is informed by considerations of the substantial issues of our nationhood rather than the pedestrian concerns that too often influence our politics,” said.

In a goodwill message, Muhammed Kazaure, the member representing the Kazaure, Roni, Gwiwa, Yankwashi constituency of Jigawa State said he would prevail on Aliyu Betara who is also contesting for the position to drop his ambition and back Gagdi.

Kazaure said the duo of Gagdi and Betara are the best material for speakership going by their antecedents but haven being instrumental to the emergence of speakers in the 8th and 9th Assembly, it was more honourable for the latter to support the former and guide him to succeed.

“There are two contestants for this position. Not because Gagdi is my friend but because I know he is the man to do the job. The next contestant is Betara. Gagdi is 100% likewise Betara is 100%. Betara is a good man, the only thing with him is he don’t say no and he doesn’t talk too much. We need speaker that will say no. That’s the only difference.

“From this place, I am going to meet Betara to come and join Gagdi because I remember in 2015 it was the support of Betara that Dogara emerged as the speaker. Betara worked too much to make sure he brought Dogara.

“In 2019 with Betara supported Femi Gbajabiamila to emerge the speaker. So my advice to Betara is let him stay as a master and boss of the House because he produced speaker in 8th Assembly, he produced speaker in the 9th Assembly, he is supposed to make Gagdi speaker in the 10th Assembly,” he said.

Speaking separately, some members-elect, including Terser Ugbor from Benue, David Umar and Aliyu Mustapha from Kaduna as well as Sunday Umeha (Labour Party, Enugu) and Peter Ibrahim (PDP, Plateau) insisted that the position be zoned to North-central for justice and equity while Gagdi was the best man for the job.