- We’ve power to tinker with budget –Saraki
- We won’t be your rubber stamp –Dogara
From FRED ITUA and Ndubuisi Orji,
Both chambers of the National Assembly, yesterday, took on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, over his assertion that the legislature lacked the power to insert new projects or modify those contained in an appropriation bill.
They told the acting president that the power to appropriate was vested on the legislaure by the constition.
While the Senate warned Osinbajo not to mistake its consultations with the executive on important national issues to mean it had ceded its constitutional powers, the House of Representatives said it would never be a rubber stamp to the executive.
Osinbajo had said: “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 spent 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.
“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.
“And 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.”
But Saraki, while reacting to a point of order raised by the Deputy Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, at plenary, said the senate would continue to defend the constitution and ensure that anything it did was in line with the laws of the land.
“I want to say that there are times we have a number of consultations and I want to make it clear that these consultations we do with the executive will not at any time mean that we will give up the powers we have in line with the Constitution.
“I want to reassure our members on this, because it is very important based on what we have heard. You may be concerned that one way or another, leadership had given up some of these powers. That is not the case.
“But, 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 do not think that should be misrepresented that powers given to us in the constitution do not exist. That is not the case,” he said.
On its part, the House in what seemed a riot act, said it would not be a rubber stamp to the executive arm of government.
Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said the constitution clearly spelt out the duty of each arm of government, noting that in the event of a conflict, the executive was not the appropriate arm to interpret the constitution.
“I don’t want to believe the acting president said that. 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,” the speaker stated.
He added: “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 (lawmakers) represent different constituencies. The House cannot be a rubber stamp of any executive arm under our watch.