19 June 2017

Nigeria: 2017 Budget - NASS Draws Battle Line With Osinbajo

Photo: Presidency Nigeria
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo with Bukola Saraki, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara and Garba Shehu.

Strong indications have emerged that fresh crisis may be looming between the Presidency and the National Assembly over the 2017 budget, as senators and members of the House of Representatives are said to be very with Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for downplaying their power to tinker with the budget.

Consequently, the lawmakers vowed not to entertain any virement or supplementary budget proposals that would come from the executive.

Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the lawmakers, who had earlier agreed to entertain virement or supplementary budget proposals from the Presidency prior to the signing of the document last Monday by Osinbajo, had made a U-turn because they are obviously angered by the statements credited to Osinbajo which challenged their constitutional powers to tinker with the Appropriation Bill.

The lawmakers described the Acting President's statements as "medicine after death," designed to incite members of the public against the legislature.

The lawmakers, who are now angry that the executive was only setting the legislature up for another round of public bashing, however, accused Osinbajo of "bad faith" and "playing to the gallery."

While accusing Osinbajo of undermining the legislature, some of the lawmakers are insisting that unless he comes up with a counter-statement, no request for virement or supplementary appropriation would be entertained from him.

According to a senator, the statements credited to the acting president negated the agreement he had with their leadership before the signing of the budget.

"If he felt strongly that we do not have the powers to change anything in the budget proposal and estimates, then he should not have assented to it and he should know that now that he has signed it, it is a valid law of the land and like the speaker noted in his comments on the issue last Thursday, he should know that it is an impeachable offence not to implement it," said the senator, who pleaded anonymity.

The NASS members, whose leadership had last week responded to the Acting President's statement, have reiterated that the comments were needless as both arms had agreed that if there was any issue arising in the implementation of the budget, the Presidency could forward a request for virement.

Virement would enable the executive move funds from one item to the other or even request for supplementary appropriation.

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