Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus of the House of Representatives on Wednesday threatened to dump the 2014 Budget and set the tone for a tumultuous session ahead Thursday, as they threatened to throw out the 2014 Appropriation Bill presented to them last year by the Presidency.
The caucus, through its leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said that they would not be acting against the budget because of an earlier directive by APC leadership to them to block all bills from the executive.
He said that the position of the House against the document was based on the sound principle that it was skewed against the poor, and was loaded with foreign debt proposals and deficits.
“It is a budget where the economics do not trickle down to the common man,” Gbajabiamila argued.
He said that the APC, even before the party’s directive, has fought and killed some toxic proposals from the Presidency as introduced by the majority leader; Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola.
“We will not support a budget that does nothing for the people we represent. We will not rubber stamp a budget that seeks to borrow more money at ridiculous rates and further impoverish the country. Indeed we refuse to support a budget that comes in with a huge deficit.
“We certainly do not agree with a budget that allocates a pitiable 25 percent for capital expenditure, which capital component will only be implemented 30 percent whilst recurrent will be implemented 100 percent. How in the world do you stimulate an economy the size and population of Nigeria with a 25 percent allocation to capital?
“We cannot in good conscience support a budget that comes with a benchmark and siphons away 30 percent of the countries revenue into an illegal excess crude account in violation of the provisions of Section 162 of the constitution we individually swore to defend, with the resultant effect of short-changing the states we all individually represent. A budget where the economics do not trickle down to the common man,” he stated.
He said that the party would not go for a budget presented by a minister, who was yet to give answers to weighty questions revenue and other matters.
“We do not want to be accessories after the fact by passing a budget when the President or minister of finance who has publicly admitted to the disappearance of 10 billion dollars has not given explanations but seeks to borrow more money. And who continues to blame shortfall in revenue on crude theft by some phantom thieves.
“We refuse to participate in what has become an annual ritual and approving a document in the name of passing a budget that tells a lie about the true state of our finances and liquidity and where our revenue is being deflated by about 500 billion annually through the fraudulent and indiscriminate grant of waivers. More importantly we will not be party to the appropriation of funds and taxpayers money to a police force that will turn around and use same to maim and kill the same taxpayers. No we will not,” he insisted.
On how the APC has always blocked bills sponsored by the PDP-led executive, the APC leader said: “As far as the House is concerned, keen observers would have noticed that since last year, most Bills presented on the floor of the House through the PDP leader in the House (Akande-Adeola) have suffered an almost instant and premature death. The kick against such bills yes came from mostly APC members and progressive members within the rank and file of the PDP.”
Justifying the directive from the APC leadership, the lawmaker said: “So the directive was really nothing new. What it did was to put a government determined to bring our democracy down on notice that it was no longer going to be business as usual.
“So really what the party did was only to lend support to what was already going on across party lines in the House. We must be clear and put the party position in perspective. Whilst the focus for now remains the happenings in Rivers (State), our broad and overall concern remains good governance and covers the whole gamut of our national life,” added.
According to him, they will continue to frustrate executive’s bills until the crisis in Rivers State is resolved.
“Let us be categorical, we intend to continue to protest the culture of impunity, immorality and illegality this government insists in entrenching in our system, we intend to insist on good governance, we intend to stand firm on our oath of office to defend the constitution and discharge our legislative duties in the interest of the people of Nigeria. Good governance is the end goal and filibustering or stalling executive bills is the means and we believe that in this case the end definitely justifies the means,” he insisted.
The lawmakers also appealed to Nigerians particularly workers to bear with the step they have taken.
“Whilst we observe and are gratified that this universally accepted, legislative and democratic tool is already yielding results and achieving the desired effect as evidenced in the protection given last Saturday for the Save Rivers Movement and the running of the PDP from pillar to post looking for help from other political parties in the House, we urge all Nigerians to bear with us and join us in this fight against impunity, recklessness and bad governance,” he concluded.