House: APC Lawmakers Block 2014 Budget Debate

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As Tambuwal appoints 6-member budget study team BEVERLY HILLS, February 04, (THEWILL) - The All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the House of Representatives Tuesday made good their threat to block the 2014 budget proposal as they forced the leadership to suspend debate on it until next week, alleging breach of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007.

This came as the House suspended the plenary for two days (Wednesday and Thursday), to allow the APC members participate in the party's membership registration which begins on Wednesday, January 5.

Trouble started shortly after the Majority Leader, Hon.

Mulikat Akande-Adeola, commenced reading the bill for a consideration, when a newly defected APC lawmaker from Benue State, Hon.

Emmanuel Jime, raised a point of order, alleging that the Executive violated section 21 (1)(2) &(3) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

He submitted that the Ministry of Finance failed to present a detailed estimate of all statutory agencies particularly that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as required by the Act.

"What we have here is a purported summary of the budget and the law required that the full estimate must accompany the budget to the House before the House could start debate on it," Jime noted .

According to the lawmaker, it was wrong for the House to continue to tolerate the blatant violation and breach of the constitution year-in year-out by the executive without cautioning them, adding that the House being a legislative chamber should be up and doing in its oversight functions and must stand for the truth at all times.

Speaker, people would argue that the budget is such an important document that affects the lives of Nigerians but do we continue to flout the law "Mr.

Speaker, in order to avoid the reputation of the missing $10.

8bn non-remittance by the NNPC, there is the need for us to know the budget summary before debating it, that would give us the actual amount of each ministry and MDA'S before we go for oversight," he said.

Although, PDP members attempted to interrupt Jime's explanation, the Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, appealed to them to allow him make his point.

It was when Jime ended his presentation that the Speaker invited Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon.

John Enoh (PDP, Cross River), to respond to the allegations leveled by the Benue lawmaker.

In his response, Enoh countered Jime's point of order, arguing that nothing in the budget proposal suggests any breach of the FRA 2007, insisting that in the last two years, the Executive has been complying with the Act.

According to him, the budget estimate is a matter of prominence and has been the tradition of the House to debate on the summary of the budget before the estimates were made available to the House.

Enoh, who spoke amid applause from the PDP members, explained that 'the point of order raised by my colleagues cannot stop the consideration of this budget, ' adding 'By the way, the budget of any country is so important a document that should not be toyed with.

' Ruling on the matter, Tambuwal noted that 'what Jime is raising is a matter of point of law - whether it is complied with or not and the chairman of the Appropriation Committee has alluded to the fact that this has been the practice in the House.

' He consequently constituted a six-man committee led by the Chairman, Rules and Business Committee , Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP, Taraba), to study the budget, the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the point of order made by Jime within 24 hours and advised him appropriately.

Other members of the committee are Sunday Adepoju (APC, Oyo), Ali Ahmed (APC, Kwara), Chukwuemeke Nwaogbo (APGA, Anambra) , Aminu Shagari (APC, Sokoto) and Ken Chikere (PDP, Rivers).

They are to study the matter and report to the House within 24 hours.