2017 budget: Reps tackle Osibanjo on padding claims as Dogara issues subtle threats

By Alex Okoro

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has served notice to tackle the Executive over claims by Acting President Yemi Osibanjo that the National Assembly distorted the 2017 budget and ‘padded’ new projects not hitherto contemplated.

To underscore its discontent over the issue, its Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, issued a subtle warning that consequences could apply if the Executive fails to implement the Appropriation Act as signed by Osibanjo on June 9.

At plenary on Thursday, a motion on matters of privilege was raised by Mr. Lawal Abubakar (APC, Adamawa), to the effect that his privilege as a member was breached by statements credited to Osinbajo that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects to the budget before passing it.

In his reaction to the motion, Dogara insisted that the budget had already become law and the Executive was constitutionally bound to implement it, stressing that failure to do so could mean the invocation of consequences which he declined to name.

He said: “We are men of honour whether legislators or executive are bound by  the oath of office to faithfully execute that law and in the case of the executive, if it is not done, all of us know the very consequences. I don’t want to call it by its name, we know the consequences. So in his kind of government, the winner is obvious.  So I don’t think we should bother ourselves belaboring this issue.”

The speaker went further to detail the powers of the various arms of government in a presidential democracy, saying that “there is no way this House will be a rubber stamp of any executive . Budgets are priorities of the government because we are representatives of the people. We can say even though these are priorities of the government, based on our job of representation, these are not the priorities of the people and we can refuse to fund them.”

He restated that the parliament has powers to override the executive saying, “the worst the executive can do is to say they will not sign and after 30 days, if we can muster two-thirds, and it doesn’t have to be two-thirds of the entire membership, once the quorum is formed, two-third of the members sitting and voting, we can override the veto of the President and pass it into law.”

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