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Budget padding: Nigerians Will Hear the Full Story on September 13 – Hon. Wale Raji

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Hon Wale Raji (APC), a member of the House of Representatives, representing Epe Federal Constituency has asked Nigerians to be patient over the burning issue of budget padding in the green chamber.

Raji confirmed to sources that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was on top of the situation.

The lawmaker, who noted that he was using the ongoing recess to further interact with his people and carry out a number of inventions in his constituency, also said the word “padding” seems to have been over exaggerated in the context of the 2016 budget.

 Raji said: “The truth is that there is nothing I will say that one person or the other has not said since the whole issue started.

“However, we have an instruction from the party not to comment, especially to gentlemen of the press and I believe you are aware. So as a disciplined party member, I am complying with that directive.

“The only thing I can say is to appeal to Nigerians to be patient. They will definitely hear all about it when the House resumes on September 13. I know everyone is eager but once the House sits in less than a month from now, we will all know the way forward.”

On allegations that lawmakers siphon monies meant for constituency projects, Raji urged the media to investigate it.

“It is not just enough to base your reaction on hearsay. There must be evident that projects budgeted for was not done. This is how it works: A lawmaker is allowed to nominate projects equal to a certain amount for execution in his or her constituency.

“It is then domiciled in one of the federal MDAs. So if there will be any mismanagement of fund earmarked, it requires the collaboration of that MDA, because a legislator cannot award contract, neither can he or she make payment.

“The budget in an open document. Those saying lawmakers go behind to collect cash should investigate and provide evidence to relevant agencies.”

Raji further disclosed that the 17 APC lawmakers from Lagos had agreed to join resources to do a huge project in the State.

“In the budget, States in Southwest got N6 billion, to be shared equally, that’s N1billion per state also to be shared equally. But the arithmetic is unfair because while Lagos has more population and 24 federal constituencies, others have by far lower population and federal constituencies less than 15.

“That said, based on experience and to avoid duplication of efforts, we said to ourselves, ‘let’s not do drainages or boreholes or transformers and the likes; these are being addressed by the state government’. We agreed that to really make an impact, we should do something big, while doing some projects on the side for our direct constituents.

“So we met with the Governor and told him of our plans; he was excited and gave us the go ahead. We then approached the State MDA which the project falls under. They will use the money to execute this project. I cannot disclose now, but we will inform the public about it later.

“That aside, I do regular empowerment programmes for my people. I live in VGC but till today, I still go to my constituents to buy foodstuffs, cut my hair, make my clothes, furnitures and what have you. Most artisans and traders I patronize are in Epe because they sent me to House of Reps, so I try as much as possible to contribute to their businesses and means of livelihood.”

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