Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola yesterday chided Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriation Senator Danjuma Goje for asking him to resign if he’s unable to handle his workload.
Goje spoke on the floor of the senate on Wednesday during a debate on Fashola’s complaint about the cutting of his ministry’s capital budget vote on key projects.
Goje also said the minister, who was Lagos State governor should not see the national Aseembly as the Lagos State House of Aseembly.
But Fashola, in a statement he sent from Zimbabwe, where he is attending the 35thAnnual General Meeting of the Shelter Afrique and made available by his media advier Hakeem Bello, advised Goje not to “seek to trivialize the issues” he raised about the unilateral slashing of the budgetary allocation to key national infrastructure by the National Assembly.
Fashola said he was responding only for the purpose of refocusing attention to the issues at stake, adding that it was wrong for Goje to say he should learn how to “behave” like a “Minister” and the reference to the Senate awaiting how he would be “handled” by the House of Representatives. “I think first that the language is unparliamentary and therefore not deserving of a reply”.
According to the Minister, the Senator’s reference to the patriotism of legislators should not be spoken but demonstrated as regards his calls for a more developmental budgeting approach.
Explaining this further, the Minister declared: “In this context, it is left for Nigerians to then decide whether budgeting for constituency roads is more patriotic than budgeting to complete the Kano-Maiduguri Road that connects 5 states, the Lagos-Ibadan road that connects 3 states and helps to move food, imported goods and fuel across the country; or the 2nd Niger Bridge that connects the East and West geopolitical zones of at least 11 states together.
“I will also leave Nigerians to judge whether it is more patriotic to budget for the Mambilla Power Project that will contribute to more power across Nigeria or reduce the budget to build street lights in legislative constituencies.”
The Minister noted that the response to the issues he raised certainly should not have been accusations of his blackmailing the Legislature or referring to those who shared his views as his “surrogates”.
Fashola advised Senator Goje to acquire the temperament for such debate and disagreement and said: “Let me reiterate that I see Parliament as a house where very vigorous debates about development should take place and it is important for Goje to acquire the temperament of debate and disagreement”.