Nearly two years into the life of the current administration the Executive and the Legislative arms of government are not yet seeing eye-to-eye on major problems and their solution as they continue to trade blames, to the detriment of millions of Nigerians who voted for change. The latest disagreement was sparked by Minister of Transport Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who at a Town Hall meeting in Ilorin on Monday last week heaped blames on the National Assembly for government’s inability to fix the country’s problems.
Amaechi said it was the National Assembly’s refusal to approve the Federal Government’s $29.9billion external loan plan that was frustrating the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan and Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna-Kano rail lines. Amaechi, who served as Director General of President Mohammad Buhari’s Campaign Organisation during the 2015 election campaign, is fully aware of the weighty promises made by the current set of leaders while they were criss-crossing the country seeking for votes. But now that they are in power for nearly two years, instead of reeling out achievements, the Executive is accusing the National Assembly, which also has an APC majority, of stopping the federal government from accomplishing its lofty promises of fixing infrastructure problems and creating jobs for the masses.
Hundreds of Nigerians who attended the North Central Town Hall meeting ýfor the people of Kogi, Niger and Kwara had high expectations of hearing what was achieved but instead got an earful of complaints and blame gaming. Amaechi said to his listeners’ chagrin, “We did not promise you that those challenges will be solved in one year. If we promise you that those challenges would be solved in one year you would have given us one year but you gave us four years mandate. So wait till the end of four years before you can conclude that we have not done well.” Senators did not take kindly to Amaechi’s accusation. They called it an incitement and asked the minister to withdraw it.
Senate’s spokesman Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said the statement was not only false but also portrayed the Minister as not in tune with realities. Abdullahi said the National Assembly has already approved the $1 billion Eurobond which contains the two rail lines Amaechi was referring to. He said, “As of today, the only request for approval from the Executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo seeking a ‘Resolution of the National Assembly for the Issuance of USD 1 Billion Eurobond in the International Capital Market for the Funding of the 2016 Budget Deficit’ and we immediately granted the approval. Also, in the letter quoted above, the Government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the Eurobond will be utilised. So, we cannot understand what the grouse of Amaechi is. We view that statement based on false and misinformed premise strongly as a mere attempt to incite the people against the National Assembly.”
If what the Senate spokesman said is true, then we are disappointed that Amaechi made such a weighty allegation at the Town Hall meeting without sticking to the facts. The Senate is not expected to be a rubber stamp of the executive and must carefully scrutinize all proposals laid before it. The unsavoury developments that led to the dismal performance of the 2016 budget are still fresh in our memories and Nigerians would not want to witness a repeat. It is regrettable that bitter exchanges and blame games between the two arms of government have refused to abate at a time Nigeria’s economy is in dire straits and people are suffering. Both arms of government must get their acts together and stop shifting blames. They jointly promised us change when they were canvassing for votes. They must redeem the promises. People voted for improved lives, not blame games.
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