House: APC Lawmakers Vow To Frustrate 2014 Budget
Threaten zero allocation to police Challenge APGA, LP to merge with PDP SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, (THEWILL) - The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in the House of Representatives Wednesday reiterated their resolve to continue to frustrate bills sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill until Rivers State is freed of police impunity.
The lawmakers also threatened not to appropriate any funds for the police even if the budget would be passed, saying they will not empower the police to maim and kill Nigerians.
The Minority Leader, Hon.
Femi Gbajabiamila, who also doubles as APC leader, made this declaration at a press conference in Abuja.
He said blocking the budget proposal would not be the first time as the APC alongside the progressive-minded PDP members in the House had since the inauguration of the seventh Assembly been stopping bills from the House leader, Hon.
He vowed that the APC caucus would not sanction the budget proposal until the PDP government return to the path of democracy.
'We will not support a budget that does nothing for the people we represent.
We will not rubber stamp a budget that seeks to borrow more money at ridiculous rates and further impoverish the country.
Indeed we refuse to support a budget that comes in with a huge deficit.
'We seek to do nothing less.
We will hold the government accountable and check and balance the excesses of an oppressive executive.
On the morality of our decision, we believe that it is better to stop executive bills and a meaningless budget than to lose one single life through the recklessness of government,' he declared.
According to Gbajabiamila, the caucus did not agree with the entire proposal citing anti-people components in the documents.
'We certainly do not agree with a budget that allocates a pitiable 25 percent for capital expenditure, which capital component will only be implemented 30 percent whilst recurrent will be implemented 100 percent.
How in the world do you stimulate an economy of the size and population of Nigeria with a 25 percent allocation to capital? 'We cannot in good conscience support a budget that comes with a benchmark and siphons away 30 percent of the country's revenue into an illegal excess crude account in violation of the provisions of section 162 of the constitution we individually swore to defend, with the resultant effect of shortchanging the states we all individually represent.
A budget where the economics do not trickle down to the common man.
'We do not want to be accessories after the fact by passing a budget when the President or Minister of Finance who has publicly admitted to the disappearance of $10 billion has not given explanations but seeks to borrow more money.
And who continues to blame shortfall in revenue on crude theft by some phantom thieves.
'We refuse to participate in what has become an annual ritual and approving a document in the name of passing a budget that tells a lie about the true state of our finances and liquidity and where our revenue is being deflated by about N500 billion annually through the fraudulent and indiscriminate grant of waivers.
'More importantly, we will not be party to the appropriation of funds and taxpayers money to a Police Force that will turn around and use same to maim and kill the same taxpayers.
No we will not,' he said.
On how the APC has always blocked bills sponsored by the PDP-led executive, the APC leader said: 'As far as the House is concerned, keen observers would have noticed that since last year, most bills presented on the floor of the House through the PDP Leader in the House (Hon.
Mulikat Adeola) have suffered an almost instant and premature death.
The kick against such bills came from mostly APC members and progressive members within the rank and file of the PDP.
' Justifying the directive from the APC leadership, the lawmaker said: 'So the directive was really nothing new.
What it did was to put a government determined to bring our democracy down on notice that it was no longer going to be business as usual.
'So really what the party did was only to lend support to what was already going on across party lines in the House.
We must be clear and put the party position in perspective.
Whilst the focus for now remains the happenings in Rivers, our broad and overall concern remains good governance and covers the whole gamut of our national life.
' According to him, APC lawmakers will continue to frustrate executive bills until the crisis in Rivers State is resolved.
'Let us be categorical, we intend to continue to protest the culture of impunity, immorality and illegality this government is entrenching in our system.
We intend to insist on good governance, we intend to stand firm on our oath of office to defend the constitution and discharge our legislative duties in the interest of the people of Nigeria,' he said.
The APC also picked holes in the manner the President has been treating the National Assembly with contempt.
'Let us quickly add at this point that the first disdain and contempt for the budgeting process and Nigerians came from Mr.
President himself when against all known democratic tradition at least in this country sent his employee to present the budget to the National Assembly and for the first time in our history.
Nigerians did not have the opportunity of hearing their President address the country on the state of the nation, the performance of the last budget and the contents and objectives of the new budget.
A crying shame and another shade of impunity.
'Whilst the constitution was interpreted by apologists not to require his presence, they failed to address the break in tradition, the spirit behind the provision of the constitution and the implications of the action.
Perhaps next time we can expect a Special Assistant of the President to present the budget or for him to mail it to the National Assembly as he would then be said to have "caused" it to be laid before both Houses of the National Assembly as provided by the constitution .
'Good governance is the end goal and filibustering or stalling executive Bills is the means and we believe that in this case, the end definitely justifies the means," he added.
The lawmakers also appealed to Nigerians particularly workers to bear with the step they have taken.
'Whilst we observe and are gratified that this universally accepted, legislative and democratic tool is already yielding results and achieving the desired effect as evidenced in the protection given last Saturday for the Save Rivers Movement and the running of the PDP from pillar to post looking for help from other political parties in the House, we urge all Nigerians to bear with us and join us in this fight against impunity, recklessness and bad governance,' he said.
Challenging parties that have, according to him, aligned with the PDP, Gbajabiamila said: 'We note with bemusement that those who have come out with guns blazing to criticise our most patriotic decision are PDP apologists such as APGA, Labour Party, etc.
These are groups that pretend to have a separate identity but are inextricably joined to the hips with the PDP.
"We advise that the sooner they stopped deceiving Nigerians and merge with the PDP, the better for Nigerians so that a clear choice between two political parties can be made in 2015 by an increasingly oppressed and fatigued electorate.
A choice between SAME and CHANGE.
'One wonders where these PDP apologists were and why the cat got their tongues when the PDP illegally, unconstitutionally and in spite of a Supreme Court judgment seized the Local Government funds of 18 million citizens of Lagos State.
' By Saint Mugaga, Abuja