The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government against unauthorised and non-budgetary spending.
The speaker gave the warning on Tuesday in Abuja when he welcomed members of the House from their annual recess.
Gbajabiamila said that early in the life of the 9th House of Representatives, members promised to return the nation’s budgetary process to a regular budget cycle, running from January through to December.
He said that the House had kept to the promise in its first year and also set a standard from which it must not deviate.
He, however, said that there was a perceptible problem of MDAs failing to implement projects and programmes for which funds had been provided in the budget.
“It bears restating that the Appropriation Act is not merely a policy document or a statement of intent; it is the law of the land that binds us all.
“Any expenditure of public funds outside of the Appropriation Act is a crime, and a failure to implement programmes and projects for which funds have been allocated and provided is also unlawful.”
Gbajabiamila said that such a failure amounted to a betrayal of public trust that undermined faith in the government, while frustrating efforts to promote national development.
He stressed that the House would take action against those who failed in their responsibilities in this regard, warning: “I sincerely hope it does not come to that.”
The speaker urged members of the House to work together as they resumed sitting, adding that their concerted efforts would facilitate the attainment of a prosperous nation.
“The success or failure of the 9th House of Representatives will not be the result of the actions of any individual; we are in this together, let us continue to work in unity,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that bills presented before the House would be treated on the basis of “first come, first serve”, adding that such bills must also be aligned with the agenda of the House.
The speaker said that the House would consider the Petroleum Industry Bill before it, and ensure the passage of the bill this time around.
He said that in the course of the recess, the House embarked on some reforms in the chamber, adding that for the first time, the House would now operate in a digitalised chamber.
“I am happy to announce that for the first time in our history, the House of Representatives will sit in an entirely digitised chamber,” he said.
He said this would enable the proceedings of the House, including records of votes, to be taken appropriately in real-time and archived for future uses.
Besides, Gbajabiamila said that the leadership of the House engaged the labour unions in a bid to avert the looming strike over planned reform by the federal government, which was suspended on Sunday.
“We recognise that some of these reforms will increase the living costs for many at a time when people are struggling to cover the costs of daily life,” he added.
He said that the House would liaise with the executive to develop and implement measures to support the people who needed help and ensure that the most vulnerable got through with dignity.