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Teddy Oscar, Abuja

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon.  Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has hinted that the refusal of some agencies of government to subject their expenditure to legislative process of appropriation could cost Nigeria an extra N7.4 trillion.

The Federal Government had sent an initial N4.6 trillion to the National Assembly for appropriation last December, but Tambuwal reckoned on Wednesday that the country could end up spending the sum of N12 trillion.

Tambuwal, who dropped the hint while addressing a delegation of the Forestry Association of Nigeria, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office, said that the issues have to do more with the challenge of getting priorities right at the level of leadership.

?All of this is attributable to the fact that we are yet to get our priorities right as leaders. It will interest you to know that the N4.6 trillion that we have as statutory budget is just 1/3 (one/third) of what otherwise should have come into the national coffers. Some agencies of government are likely to spend about N9 trillion,? he disclosed.

He said that the defaulting agencies that tend to subvert the nation?s economic interest are of the notion that they can spend whatever they earn at will without the National Assembly appropriating for such spending.

?Some of these agencies include: the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are agencies whose budgets are not completely captured on the main national budget,? he added.

He said the development creates room for duplication as these budgets do not pass through the proper channel of appropriation by the National Assembly.

?So, if you add that to the over all national budget, Nigeria may end up spending about N12 trillion, not N4.9, not N5 trillion, but N12 trillion in a year. Unless we come to terms with the  reality of bringing all of that to the National Assembly as required by law,? he revealed.

He added that the National Assembly does what is necessary with every sense of commitment and patriotism and not with the intention of grandstanding or witch-hunting anybody anywhere as assumed or viewed at some quarters.

Earlier, Labode Popoola, president and leader of the group,  highlighted causes of deforestation in Nigeria to include desertification, illegal felling of trees by individuals and organisations, inadequate funding for the forestry department and the absence of legal frame work that can enable professional bodies such as his to regulate forestry practices in Nigeria.

?First, there is no legislation to regulate forestry practice in Nigeria. No forestry policy backed by law. There should also be a ban on the exportation of charcoal in this country and we can?t prevent people from doing their businesses as we only an NGO who can only regulate the activities of its members,? Poopola said.

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