The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has vowed not to sign off the 2021 budget before the National Assembly without adequate compensation for victims of police brutality and demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The Speaker stated this in his welcome address during plenary on Tuesday.
The Speaker’s comment is coming on the heels of the #EndSARS protest that has ravaged the entire country.
In the last two weeks, thousands of Nigerian youths have taken to the streets to express their grievances.
The peaceful protest is fast yielding results with the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and setting up a judicial panel of enquiry by state governments.
No Compensation, No Budget
Mr Gbajabiamila while describing the protesting youths as midwives of national rebirth said their agitation has brought about a historical moment in the country.
“You have moved a nation to action, and now you must join in doing the hard work of making real the vision of a more just, more prosperous, and more resilient nation.”
“We see your true cause. Please do not allow your righteous cause to be hijacked by those with base motives, who see in this moment an opportunity to pursue vendettas, to spread division, exploit the many existing fissures that exist in our society and bring our nation to its knees.”
“You have raised your voices and marched to demand a better Nigeria. From Abuja to Washington, to Calgary and London, your voices have been heard.”
“Do not allow anybody to convince you that to withdraw from the streets now is to concede defeat.”
“This is the time to move your agitation from the chaos of the streets to the painstaking deliberations and strategic partnerships that birth policy and produce legislation.”
“It is time to mobilise your voices in support of specific policy interventions that will deliver on our shared objectives of national renewal and a country that reflects the best of us. I thank you, your country thanks you, and history will be kind to you.”
The Speaker said the time has come for the nation to reconsider the system of funding education, stating the current one is a great disservice to the nation.
While threatening to withhold his signature to the appropriation bill, the speaker disclosed that a house delegation would visit families of some of those killed by the police.
He also said they would be honoured after the visits.
“I will not sign off on a 2021 Budget that does not include adequate provisions to compensate those who have suffered violence and brutality at the hands of the police in Nigeria in the last two decades.
“I will not sign off on a budget that does not meet the reasonable demands of the ASUU, to which Government has already acceded.
“There is no better time to rethink the system of funding for higher education in Nigeria. The current system does a great disservice to our children and our country, and we must commit to changing it so that we can free our institutions of higher learning to be citadels where innovation thrives, and excellence is a given,” the Speaker said.