Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Budget Passage Delay - Confab Okays Government Shutdown

The National Conference yesterday resolved that henceforth, where either the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the National Assembly (NASS) failed to meet the time frame set for the passage of an Appropriation Bill, government operations will have to shut down.

Consequently, delegates agreed that Section 82 of the 1999 Constitution which deals with authorization of expenditure without appropriation be amended to stop any spending by government in the event of a delay in the passage of the budget.

This was one of the decisions reached as delegates at plenary completed debate and adoption of recommendations of the report of the Standing Committee on Public Service, which began earlier in the week.

Conference had earlier agreed that Appropriation Bill for the coming year must be presented to the NASS on or before September 30 of every year while the process of passage by NASS must be completed within two months for Presidential assent in December.

The delegates earlier rejected an amendment recommended by the committee which said "In the event that the budget is not approved by January 2, government should operate on the basis of 75% of previous year's Budget as an interim measure to avoid shutdown." They however voted for total shutdown of government operations in the event of default by either the executive of legislature in budget passage timeline.

They argued that no expenditure should be allowed as presently contained in Section 82 of the 1999 Constitution, saying their decision was to stem the current situation where both the Executive and Legislature "do not seem to be bothered" about delays in budget presentation and approval.

Conference at plenary also approved amendment to Section 147(3) of the 1999 Constitution which will now stipulates the appointment of only one minister from each state of the federation by the President. This will also stop the practice of appointing more ministers on the platform of geo-political zones as it is not constitutionally backed.

In the same vein, the delegates however rejected a proposed amendment to the effect that 40% of ministerial appointments by the President should go to women.

Meanwhile, labour matters got the support of delegates as they voted overwhelmingly to retain labour and minimum wage issues in the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution as against an amendment that they should be moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.

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