A civil society group, Movement for Effective Legislature and Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria (MELSDN), has called on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to take advantage of the general acceptability of the current Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara across political parties and throw its weight behind him as the Speaker of the 10th Assembly.
The group in a statement made available to parliamentary reporters on Sunday in Abuja said the legislature being a key arm of government in a democracy requires serious institutional memory, courage and a strength of character in the person who presides over its affairs. It said polls conducted nationwide, reveal that Betara is the only person who enjoys such a thick clout of respect, credibility and general acceptability across the Members-Elect of the different parties.
According to the release titled: ‘Betara: APC’s Tool for Budget Cycle Sustainability and Bipartisan Consensus,’ signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Dr Williams Ndorokpa Martins, “the Legislature is the key organ of government in a democracy, be it presidential or parliamentary and if the incoming 10th National Assembly will succeed, three factors must be brought into consideration and given greater premiums in our leadership recruitment process, particularly as it affects the 10th House of Representatives. They are: competency, integrity and institutional memory (experience).
“And as the race for the Speakership of the 10th House of Representatives reaches its defining moments, questions have continued to rage regarding the suitability of those who have thrown their hats into the ring. And while all those who have expressed interest in the coveted position have legal rights to such claims, one man has continued to stand out in terms of the impacts his current role in the outgoing Assembly have had in the socioeconomic resilience of Nigeria. He is no other than
Rt. Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara.
“Muktar Aliyu Betara, a member of the House of Representatives since 2007, representing Biu/Bayo/Shani and Kwaya Kusar Federal Constituency of Borno State North East Nigeria, is one of the few lawmakers in the National Assembly with concrete experience and core competency. He is the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations in the current 9th Assembly, which was inaugurated on June 11, 2019, where he has comprehensively demonstrated the said attributes above,” the statement said.
According to Dr Martins, the group argued further that aside Representation, Law making and Oversight, Appropriation being one of the four cardinal responsibilities of the legislature, prides itself as the heartbeat of any legislative session or term, given its pivotal place as a major determinant of the nature of relationship that exists between the Legislature and the Executive arm of government.
“There’s no gain saying that since the return to democracy in 1999, successive administrations had altered the course of Nigeria’s fiscal journey at will, with the economy and the citizenry being the resultant casualties arising from poor budget preparations, legislation and implementation.
“With specific reference to the PDP led governments, and the first part of the APC government until 2019, Nigeria has had staggered budget cycle fraught with intra and inter agency and institutional rancour or rivalry which adversely affected the timing of budget presentation, passage and implementation. One of the resultant effects was the commencement of Nigeria’s fiscal calendar from June of a given year, just as there was no certainty in the commencement of a subsequent fiscal year.
“But to most avid followers and observers of legislative activities in the last four years, that story changed when the current 9th Assembly led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the House of Representatives’ Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, engineered a paradigm shift from the abnormality of commencing annual budget implementation in any month other than January and ending on 31st of December of same year.
“While the objective of returning the nation’s budget cycle back to its normal January—December course was a key campaign promise and a legislative agenda of the Gbajabiamila leadership, that all-important objective couldn’t have materialised if not for the legislative competence, patriotism, courage and commitment to nation building of Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara who became the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation.
Hon. Betara, from the very first day of his appointment as the Committee Chairman made a promise to the House leadership and his colleagues that he was not going to disappoint in delivering a timely, credible and people-focused annual appropriation devoid of unnecessary controversies and bickering between the Legislature and the Executive.
“Given the quantum leap achieved by the current administration in budget implementation and performance, discerning minds will agree that the Borno-born lawmaker, Rt Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara has kept that promise and given the 9th House, the Assembly and of course the Buhari-led APC administration a befitting budgetary legacy to be referenced in times to come,” the statement added.
The group also drew the party’s attention to what it describes as an enormous good will currently enjoyed by the Borno lawmaker among both returning and newly elected members of the House, noting that such could be what the incoming administration will need to have a friendly legislature using bipartisan consensus to advance government programmes and policies.
“Betara according to Nigerians within and outside the legislature is the man with the highest level of goodwill and loyalty of his colleagues by reasons of his responsiveness to their personal and political needs whenever they have challenges within the House and at constituency level.
“His army of friends across party lines are unrivaled in the legislature, and can serve as a veritable tool in achieving bipartisan consensus, thereby helping the incoming administration to seamlessly push its policies and programmes through the legislature,” the group said.