Friday, 16 June 2017

Update: The clash between the Executive and Legislature on 2017 budget.

As far as this administration is concerned, it seems budget wars have come to stay. From dealing with padding issues, we now have constitutional power battle between the Executive and the Legislation at hand. Though the budget have been presented and passed, assertion by the executive is far-fetched.
Below are quotes from key players of the budget tussle:
1.  We will not concede our constitutional powers to the executive arm of government - Senate. 
2.The House would not serve as a rubber stamp to the executive arm- House of Reps. 
3. The National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects into the budget - Acting President. 
4. This last budget, the President presented it last December. Despite the assurances that it will be passed by February, it was not, until May. “As it turned out, we were quite disappointed that it took a bit of time before it was approved. And thereafter, we had to go into negotiations with the National Assembly in order to get it right - Acting President 
The Issues:
Now, there are these two broad issues about who can do what. The first report is about who can do what. When you present a budget to the National Assembly, it is presented as a bill, an appropriation bill. “Secondly, do not introduce entirely new projects and all of that or modify projects. This is something that we experienced last year and this year again. It now leaves the question about who is supposed to do what?” 
The Senate, however, yesterday, warned the executive not to mistake its consultations with it on important national issues to mean that it was prepared to cede its constitutional powers.
5.I am sure the Acting President must have been misquoted because there is clearly no ambiguity in the Constitution of the responsibility of the National Assembly. ‘’This matter has been cleared and settled. So, I don’t think there are any issues here that are vague - Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah Saraki. 
6. I believe that as responsible statesmen, there are times we consult and do our best to work with the executive and assist them. ‘’But as we bend backwards, I don’t think that should be misrepresented that powers given to us in the constitution do not exist. “That is not the case, and this Senate will continue to defend the Constitution and ensure that anything we do is in line with the laws of the land- Saraki 
 7.I know that the Acting President who is a Professor of Law is sufficiently trained in law to know that the National Assembly has powers to tinker with the budget. I am not making a case for him and I do not want to believe that he said what has been alleged that he said- Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah
 8. I also want to assuage the fears of my colleagues that what was alleged to have been said does not represent the spirit of the framers of our Constitution. This explanation is necessary so that we put this matter to rest.”- Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah
9.In the event of a conflict, the executive is not the appropriate arm to interpret the constitution- Speaker.
10.In the United States of America, where Nigeria copied the presidential system of government, once the President submits the budget to the legislature, it is considered dead.’’ He said it was only when the parliament worked on the budget and come up with an Appropriation Act that it could become a living document - Dogara.
11.When it comes to the budget, the worst the executive can do is to withhold their assent. After 30 days, if we can muster two-third we will override the veto - Speaker. 
12.The executive is only one man—the President. The relationship between the president and other members of the executive arm is at best, a master- servant relationship. “All of us here represent different constituencies. The House cannot be a rubber stamp of any executive arm under our watch.
 13.Budget is the document of the people and there is no way a budget can take on a life of itself by mere pronunciation of the President. It is only when it has passed through the legislature that it can be said to be a living working document supported by the constitution which vests powers on the National Assembly to enact it. 
14.So, I don’t think we should waste our time belabouring this issue at all, because if the contest is to be held, we all know who the obvious winners will be. We all know where the power lies.”

Culled from Vanguard

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