The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, has assured that the 2024 budget will be the “people’s budget” that will address the economic hardships faced by Nigerians.
Abbas, who spoke on Monday at the town hall meeting on the budget organised by the lower chamber, said the meeting was designed to ensure public participation in the 2024 appropriation bill.
According to him, the town hall meeting will help Nigerians to understand the hard choices that budgeting entails and also enhance the transparency of government spending.
Abbas pointed out that the N27.5trn budget prioritizes national security, poverty reduction, local jobs creation and education.
“As representatives of the people, it is our duty to ensure that the annual appropriation reflects the needs and aspirations of every Nigerian citizen.
“Your participation in this town hall meeting underscores the essence of democracy — the power of the people to engage actively in governance and decision-making processes.
“You are invited to closely examine the 2024 budget proposal as presented to the national assembly by Mr. President.
“Your contributions must go beyond mere criticisms to constructive and evidence-based suggestions on how we can improve the budget process and make the budget more responsive to the needs of all Nigerians.
“The town hall provides a platform for direct engagement between legislators and citizens, focusing on matters related to the national budget. This is crucial to enhancing the transparency of government spending.
“It also allows the public to be more informed about how public funds are to be used and, by so doing, build greater trust in government institutions.
“More importantly, however, this town-hall will allow the national assembly to understand citizens’ needs better and explore ways to address them through the budget,” Persecond News quotes Abbas as saying.
The speaker also told participant that the house of representatives will go a step further in ensuring that the 2025 budget is discussed at constituency level.
He also identified one of the major challenges as lack of a functional government mechanism that reflects citizens’ input in the budgeting process.
Abbas added: “We expect that the 2025 budget will be discussed at the constituency level to ensure greater inclusion and engagement with diverse stakeholders at the grassroots level.
“In 2017, it ranked Nigeria 13 out of 100 points in public participation. This poor ranking was due to the dominant role played by the political elite and government bureaucrats in the budgeting process.
“While some progress has been made since 2017, many traditional challenges remain. The most notable is the absence of functional government mechanisms that show how citizens’ input informs the budget-making process.”