30 September 2012

Nigeria: As Cold War With Nass Deepens - Jonathan May Shelve 2013 Budget Address

Following the one week plenary recess embarked on by the House of Representatives, which has made it impossible for President Goodluck Jonathan to present the 2013 budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly this week, The Presidency is considering the option of transmitting the budget proposal to either chamber of the federal legislature.

The presidency had slated Thursday for President Jonathan to address a joint session of the National Assembly, wherein he would present the 2013 appropriation estimates.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY investigations revealed that attempts made by some top members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to dissuade the leadership of the House of Representatives from embarking on the week-long plenary recess yielded no results, as the House insisted on assessing the progress made so far in the implementation of the 2012 budget by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

However, our findings in The Presidency indicate that while this Thursday's joint sitting of the National Assembly would not hold, the Appropriation Bill would be transmitted to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives through the special adviser to the president on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi.

It was learnt that The Presidency is exploiting the provisions of section 67 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which makes it optional for the president to attend any joint session of the National Assembly to present fiscal measures, among other issues.

The section stipulates thus: "The President may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly or any meeting of either House of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs, including of fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance."

Also, section 81 (1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, mandates the president to lay before each House of the National Assembly fiscal estimates for the next financial year.

"The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the federation for the next following financial year."

Attempts to get the official position of The Presidency on this issue was not successful, as the senior special adviser to the president on media, Dr. Reuben Abati, declined to comment on the matter.

Also, the spokesman of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, failed to pick his calls or respond to text messages sent to his mobile telephone line.

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