NASS has powers to tamper with budget — Dogara

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 16 June 2017 | 1,531 times

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•Speaker Dogara.

The National Assembly has powers to introduce new projects, add, remove or reduce items in the Appropriations Bills, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, has said.

In a remark on a motion on matters of privileges moved by Hon. Lawal Abubakar (APC Adamawa), during the plenary on Thursday, Dogara maintained that the framers of the Constitution vested the powers of law making in the legislature, execution or implementation in the Executive while the Judiciary interprets the law so as to ensure checks and balances.

According to the Speaker, “A declaration as to which of the arms has the power and rights, in as much as it is related to the interpretation of the law, is the function of the judiciary and not of the executive.”

Earlier, in his motion, Hon. Abubakar argued that his privilege as a member was breached by statements credited to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who was quoted to have said on two occasions that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects to the budget before passing it.

Dogara also argued that the Appropriation Act is a law enacted by the parliament and that public officers from the President to his ministers have sworn to uphold the Constitution and the said refusal or failure to implement the budget is violation of the Constitution which has consequences.

The Speaker also stated that in the event of refusal to assent to any bill by the Executive, the constitution empowers the National Assembly to override such veto in the interest of the public.

“We are men of honour whether legislators or executive We are bound by the oath of office to faithfully execute that law and in the case of the executive, if it is not done, all of us know the very consequences. I don’t want to call it by its name, we know the consequences,” he charged.

He said in the United States of America where Nigeria copied its presidential system, any budget proposal sent to the Congress is presumed ‘dead on arrival’ and it only comes 'alive' when passed by the  National Assembly because the legislature has the powers to tamper with the proposal.

Speaking on the powers of the parliament, the Speaker stated that the House, under his leadership, would not be a rubber-stamp to the Executive as it would do everything to uphold and protect the independence of the legislature. He added: “When it comes to the budget, the power of the purse in a presidential system of government rests in the parliament.”

Dogara said that the reason the Constitution drafters made it that way was because the executive is just one man (the President), while every other person in the executive is acting on behalf of the President, “So the relationship between the President and every other person there is that of servant and the master. It is only in the parliament that we have representatives of the people on the basis of equality and you can say your mind on any issue, you can bring matters of priority the way you like.”

He reminded the Executive that the parliament has powers to override any veto saying: “The worst the executive can do is to say they will not sign and after 30 days, if we can muster two-thirds, and it doesn’t have to be two-thirds of the entire membership, once the quorum is formed, two-third of the members sitting and voting, we can override the veto of the President and pass such bill into law.”

Source: News Express

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