The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, has said the National Assembly and the Executive are likely to resolve issues surrounding the 2016 budget very soon.
Dogara, who made this known on Thursday when he received a delegation of All Progressives Congress elders and stakeholders from Kwande/Oshongo federal constituency of Benue State in the National Assembly, also stated that the Executive and the Parliament will not have any fight over their differences arising from the 2016 budget as passed by the National Assembly.
He stated, “We know that our people cannot wait forever for the budget and as a responsible government, we cannot afford to go to sleep on this. As we speak to you, I know that the Executive has sent observations on the budget, areas they termed “grey areas”. We’ve taken delivery of that document, we are looking into it in collaboration with the Senate, and we have arrived at a decision which I will not announce here because it is for the ears of Mr. President only.”
“In the overall national interest, we know that we have to find a solution and sooner than later, I believe that as leaders, having put on our thinking caps, we should be able to come up with a solution that will address this problem.”
A statement signed by the Speaker’s spokesman Mr. Turaki Hassan, quoted him as saying that the National Assembly is well within its powers to make amendments to the budget before passing it because the role of the Executive stops at providing estimates to the legislature which now goes further to prepare it into an appropriation law.
Dogara explained, “the truth is that even though it is the responsibility of the parliament, constitutionally speaking, to prepare the budget, because I haven’t seen any region anywhere in the world where the executive does that, the constitution recognizes that the executive will prepare the estimates and revenues and present it before parliament and then the parliament, in exercise of its duties, will make appropriation in a document called budget. Budget is always a law, it is not a policy statement and there is no government arm, no institution of government that can make laws except the National Assembly. We have exercised that constitutional right and privilege which is exclusively reserved for the National Assembly using the document that is before the President and as we all know, a law requires the assent of the president; that is one of the instrumentalities of checks and balances that democracy guarantees and if it is not assented to after some time, then the parliament can summon the courage to say they are overriding the veto powers of the president or say the bill will have to commence de novo.
“But in this situation we are not there, even though there are discussions and people instigating a fight. We know that as leaders, our responsibility is not to fight. It is one government and this government will take the active collaboration of the Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive to be able to deliver on the mandate. We cannot form an opposition within the same government. The Executive cannot constitute itself into an opposition within the system in the same government; neither can the Parliament, even though it is a bipartisan one.”
The Speaker also gave the assurance that the present administration is committed to keeping up with its electoral promises, especially through the instrument of the budget, while urging the citizens to collaborate with the government to make it a success.
“I know that we promised a lot and the question on the lips of many Nigerians, including some of us who really fought for change is: ‘where is the change?’ When we made those promises, we knew that change is constant, but if you want positive change, it has to be a guided one and it just doesn’t come easily. I can assure you that all hands are still on deck to ensure that all that was promised is delivered to the people of Nigeria.”
Dogara also used the occasion to express his condolence to the government and people of Benue State over the “very sad and incessant incursion” into some of their communities, especially Agatu, while adding that though it has been the subject of many motions on the floor of the House, he is happy to note that the government has started doing something about it.