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Reps panel chief Kalu decry poor budgetary provision for national Assembly

By Adamu Abuh, Abuja
19 December 2022   |   7:06 am
The Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and public affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu has decried the appalling budgetary provision for the National Assembly.

…… urges improve welfare for journalists

The Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and public affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu has decried the appalling budgetary provision for the National Assembly.

Kalu who spoke when he was conferred with the award as the Most Outstanding Spokesman of the House claimed that the paltry budgetary provision to the National Assembly has affected the performance of the 9th Assembly.

His words: “The budget of the National Assembly is low. We cannot function as expected by the mandate of the constitution relying on that budget. People can criticize it the way they want.

“I have said it from the day one I came to the National Assembly, you cannot get the efficiency that we want to drive the legislature by depending on the current budget as it is. I am hoping that we would push it forward to accommodate other responsibilities of ours.”

The lawmaker also canvased improved welfare packages for journalists in the country to strengthen democratic rule in the country.

The Abia-born lawmaker acknowledged that the Press Corps has given stability to the image of the National Assembly adding that journalists were not getting what they deserved and more should be done to take care of them.

He noted: “I appreciate the Press Corps for the stability they have given to the image of the National Assembly. It has not been like this before. Rancour-free, acrimony free. There is this integrity in the mind of Nigerians about the NASS.

“The confidence level has gotten from where it was to where it is at the moment not because of only what we did but also because of how you showcased what we are doing to the Nigerian people. People are beginning to understand that this fulcrum of democracy is actually playing a vital role in the advancement of our democracy.

“We have been believers of participatory democracy, where we bring the people to the centre stage and what my committee has done is to increase the level of interaction and engagement between the people and the parliament. We make ourselves available and accessible to journalists.

“We must attend to your call and that has placed us on our toes to be one step ahead. So that we would not fail in your expectation in making sure we are resourceful with the right information that would guide your publications to enable people to understand better, to make Nigerians understand our story from the horse’s mouth.

“These and more other sectoral engagements we have carried out in the country show that the parliament wants to harvest the opinion of the people so as to formulate our policies and laws in line with the desires of the people, based on the needs analysis gotten from the collective opinion of Nigerians. You have helped us achieve that by making sure you don’t tell the stories the way they are not. You have decided to make sure that at all times what you presented to the public was nothing but the truth and I commend you,” Kalu said.

Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon Muktar Aliyu Betara, said the 9th National Assembly’s successes would not have been possible without the efforts of the Press.

Aliyu, who received an award of Excellence as the Champion of Legislative Reform, was represented by Hon Mohammed Kabiru.

Expressing appreciation for the award, he said, “Journalists are considered to be judges of any society. They see it from an eagle-eye perspective and give good reportage for people to understand what is going on in society.

“I thank you for the award and commend you for the good job you have done. The 9th Assembly’s success that has been recorded would not have been possible without the Press Corps,” he said.

Also, the Chairman of, the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Hon Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada urged journalists not to compromise in their profession.

Sharada, a governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for Kano State in the 2023 election also received an award as the Most Impactful Committee Chairman on Intelligence Matters, just as he recalled his journey through the journalism profession before joining politics.

He said: “I feel honoured by this award. Journalism is a profession I have always loved to practice. Having acquired my first degree, I practised for more than 11 years before politics. My experience in journalism has greatly impacted my life and afforded me the ability to stand out in every field I find myself. My advice to journalists is to cherish and adore the profession and put it above other considerations.”

Director General/Chief Executive of Teen Ambassadors Foundation, Dr Paul Adiwu, also reiterated the commitment of the foundation towards empowering the next generation of leaders with opportunities to connect with like-minded peers, trailblazers and influencers, develop global confidence and critical skills, and transform their visions for a better future through innovative actions.

He said this as he received an Award of Excellence in Outstanding Humanitarian Service from the Press Corps.

He said the Foundation is currently building a technology laboratory for Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Training “which by the grace of God will be fully operational from the first quarter of 2023.”

Chairman, House of Committee on Power, Hon. Magaji Da’u Aliyu, who was honoured with an award of the Most Impactful Power Committee Chairman of the House attributed the uniqueness and the success of the 9th Assembly to the leadership quality and style of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

He expressed delight at the milestone achieved by the 9th House, adding that not for the leadership quality and style of the speaker, the height attained by the House wouldn’t have been possible.

“He said, “I am proud of the 9th National Assembly. I have been around for some time but in the 9th Assembly, we think we did a lot of things differently. We worked together. We worked very hard and were able to achieve our set out targets. All these go to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, for the kind of leadership he has offered to us.

“This 9th Assembly is scandal free and we also wish to commend ourselves for that. I also wish to commend the Press Corps for keeping us on our toes and trying to make us do the correct things because if you know that there are people watching you, that would make you do the right thing. we would continue to work together,” he said.

The Lawmaker also expressed regrets over the manner in which journalists are treated in Nigeria despite the importance of the work done by journalists.

He said everything possible must be done to ensure that journalists are happy and they are doing their work well.

He lauded the Press Corps for always keeping the lawmakers on their toes and always ensuring that the right things are done both at the plenary and committee levels.

An award was also presented to the Hon Frederick Agbedi, as the Voice of the Niger Delta in the 9th Assembly.

Recipients amongst committee clerks include Caroline Asan as the Most Committed Committee Clerk in Budgeting Process; Mallam Wali Shehu as the ‘Most Media Engaging Constitution Alteration Committee Clerk; Abdulsalam Olalekan as the ‘Most Successful PIB Committee Clerk in the House’; and Mathew Okuta as the ‘Most Media Conscious Clerk in War Against Corruption.’