The minority Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the House of Representatives on Tuesday failed in their attempt to shoot down the letter written by President Muhammadu Buhari on corrections made to the 2016 budget proposal.
The president had written the House explaining that some corrections were made to the budget but that the figures remained unchanged.
The PDP lawmakers, however, raised their objections to the letter after it was read by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara on the floor of the House during plenary.
The letter reads:
“At the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced, we would have had to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule. That has since been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted.
“The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.
“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures”.
But immediately after Dogara finished reading the letter, minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, who led the protest, came under constitutional point of order citing Section 81 and several provisions of the House Rules.
According to him, based on constitutional provisions, the powers to amend any budget was within the purview of the parliament but that based on Buhari’s letter, it appeared the president wanted to usurp their powers.
Mr. Ogor, therefore, advised that the House should set aside Buhari’s letter.
The minority leader’s views were however, rejected by Speaker Dogara, who said based on the content of the letter, there was no place that the president said he was amending the budget.
“What I’m saying is that there’s a technical difference between amendment and correction. If the president had written to say there are mistakes, which by law he’s the only person to correct, there’s no problem with that. There’s nobody that can cure that mistake than the president himself”, he said.
However, PDP lawmakers on the floor did not allow Dogara to make his point clearly as they kept interrupting him with shouts of “no, no, no!” It took some time before the speaker restored calm to conclude his explanation.
Another PDP lawmaker, Linus Okorie, came under another point of order, saying based on the way Dogara read the letter, it was against their rules, again, the speaker replied that the rules say “unless the House otherwise directs”.