2016 Budget: NASS Can’t Be Opposition To The APC-led FG

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Yakubu Dogara

The National Assembly will not project itself as an opposition to the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration by overriding a veto on the 2016 budget, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara said yesterday.

Speaking when he received a delegation of APC elders and stakeholders from Kwande/Oshongo federal constituency of Benue State in the National Assembly, Dogara said no matter the level of provocation from some persons, the executive and the parliament will not have any fight over their differences arising from the 2016 budget as passed by the National Assembly.

Noting issues arising from passage of the 2016 budget, he said: “But in this situation we are not there, even there are discussions and people instigating a fight. We know that as leaders, our responsibility is not to fight. It is one government and this government will take the active collaboration of the judiciary, legislature and the executive to be able to deliver on the mandate.

“We cannot form an opposition within the same government. The executive cannot constitute itself into an opposition within the system in the same government, neither can the parliament, even though it is a bipartisan one.”

“We know our people cannot wait forever for the budget and as a responsible government, we cannot afford to go and sleep on this.

“As we speak to you, I know that the executive has sent their observations on the budget, areas they termed “grey areas”. We have taken delivery of that document, we are looking into it and in collaboration with the senate, the entire National Assembly, we have arrived at a decision which I will not announce here because that one is for the ears of the President only.

“It is in the overall national interest, we know that we have to find a solution and sooner than later, within this week, I believe that as leaders, having put on our thinking caps, we should be able to come up with a solution that will address this problem,” Dogara said.

Speaking further, the Speaker noted that the National Assembly was well within its powers to make amendments to the budget before passing it because the role of the executive stopped at providing estimates to the legislature which prepares it into an Appropriation law.”

“The truth is that even though it is the responsibility of the parliament, constitutionally speaking, to prepare the budget, because I haven’t seen any region anywhere in the world where the executive does that, the constitution recognizes that the executive will prepare the estimates and revenues and present it before parliament.

“Then, the parliament, in exercise of its duties, will make appropriation in a document called budget. Budget is always a law, it is not a policy statement and there is no government arm, no institution of government that can make laws except the National Assembly.

“And we have exercised that constitutional right and privilege which is exclusively reserved for the National Assembly using the document that is before the president. And as we all know, a law requires the assent of the president, that is one of the instrumentalities of checks and balances that democracy guarantees.

“If it is not assented to after some time then the parliament can summon the courage if they can to say they are overriding the veto powers of the president or say the bill will have to commence de novo,” Dogara explained.

He, however, expressed hope that the National Assembly and the Executive would resolve issues surrounding the 2016 budget this week.

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