The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday apologised to members of the House of Representatives over his comments on this year’s budget.
He was quoted by the media to have condemned the reviews of some estimates in the budget by the National Assembly. But appearing before a panel of the House, headed by Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano), following a summon for making what they described as unguarded comments, Fashola said he had referred to the spokesperson of the House, Abdulrazak Namdas, in describing the members as possessing “stark and worrisome knowledge of the budget process,” and not the entire House.
It was after he was reminded that responses and reactions of the House spokesperson represented the general views of members that he apologised, saying his comments were without disparaging intents and might have stemmed from his grievances over the slashing of budgetary estimates of some road projects in the budget by the National Assembly.
For about three hours, the minister, who was grilled by the panelists, lamented that the reductions affected three priority road projects of the administration, namely constructions of Second Niger Bridge, Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Some members of the committee queried why federal roads in and across their constituencies were not prioritised in the Appropriation Bill. “Honourable members, if my statements on the budget have caused any discomfort beyond what I intended to convey, I apologise.
“We’re not fighting; we can disagree to agree. As to whether or not parliament can intervene in the budget process, I have made my position clear. I cannot say that the parliament cannot intervene in the process, “ Fashola said.