Just days after the 2017 budget was passed. The two chambers of the National Assembly, yesterday, had a disagreement with the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, over a statement made by him that the legislature lacked the power to insert new projects or modify those contained in an appropriation bill.
Both leaders of the National assembly responded to the acting president reminding him that the power to appropriate was vested on the legislature by the constitution. At the same time warning him not to mistake its consultations with the executive on important national issues to imply that it had ceded its constitutional powers, insisting that the House of Representatives would never be a rubber stamp to the executive.
This came after acting president 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.”
Senate president Saraki, in his response 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.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, in his own reaction stated “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. the House in what seemed a riot act, said it would not be a rubber stamp to the executive arm of government.
The disagreement between the acting president and the lawmakers is coming just few days after the 2017 budget was signed.