The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has on Tuesday vowed not to sign the 2021 Budget, if it did not include subheads to compensate victims of police brutality and the fiscal demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU.
The Speaker’s warning is contained in a speech he made on Tuesday, at the opening of the plenary session.
His words: “As Speaker of this House of Representatives, let me say now for the records to reflect, and in the expectation that I would be held to account:
“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”, he said.
The Speaker also pledged, to visit families of victims of attacks by security forces next week.
“With my colleagues in the House of Representatives, I will visit over the next week, some of the families of those who have lost loved ones to police brutality and when we come back, we will work together to honour the memory of those we have lost”, he stated.
The House of Representatives will pass an Electoral Reform Bill in time for the next general elections so that we may continue to improve the process of electing our political representatives at all levels.
• I will support the amendment of the constitution to ensure that the provisions on fundamental human rights have teeth, resource control is dealt with equitably and that the next generation of Nigerians does not inherit evident dysfunctions of our current system”, he stated.
The Speaker also reiterated his commitment to Police Reforms.
“About two weeks ago, I spoke to this honourable House about the need for urgent, substantive, and wholesale reforms of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and an overhaul of our nation’s internal security and policing framework.
“This honourable House debated the failures of policing that have caused our nation’s youth to take to the streets in their numbers, demanding that Government live up to our primary obligation to ensure the security and welfare of our people.
“The nationwide protests that gave impetus to our deliberations that day have not abated. They have gotten more serious, with many reported instances of violence between state actors and protesters, between protesters and armed thugs who seek to hijack the passion and idealism of these protests for other nefarious purposes.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has acted to dissolve the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), whose gross abuses of power are the proximate cause of this present unrest. The Government has moved to set up, through the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a national judicial panel of inquiry, in addition to similar panels set up by the federating state governments.
“The House of Representatives has committed to a programme of reforms. We resolved to collaborate with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in this effort and to ensure that draft legislation is ready for consideration within thirty days”, he stated.
The Speaker however noted that “None of these actions, have sufficed to convince the ever-growing numbers of protesters to withdraw from continued agitation. From Lagos to Awkuzu, from Port-Harcourt to Kano, Abuja and Enugu, the protests have continued relentlessly, with good cause.