Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Teddy Oscar, Abuja

The House of Representatives will on Tuesday next week shove aside threats by the All Peoples Congress (APC) to block the passage of Presidential bills, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill.

As a result, the House on Thursday raised hopes on the 2014 Budget when it declared that it would commence the consideration of the general principles of the appropriation bill next Tuesday.

This is against the threats and fresh threats issued by the opposition party, APC, to block all legislative proposals from the Presidency, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker, urged members to pick their copies of the document and go through it during the weekend, and be in attendance on Tuesday for the consideration.

Rising from its 8th regular meeting, the Interim National Executive Committee (NEC) of APC issued a communiqué directing its lawmakers to frustrate the passage of the 2014 Budget, as well as the confirmation of ministerial nominees and service chiefs in protest against what it called the impunity of the Police in Rivers State.

“The APC hereby directs its members in the National Assembly to block all legislative proposals, including the 2014 Budget and confirmation of all nominees to military and civilian positions to public office until the rule of law and constitutionalism is restored in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general,” the communiqué read in part.

Only last Wednesday, APC members in the House under the aegis of APC House Caucus issued fresh threats to the 2014 Budget.

Speaking for the group, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, House minority leader, said that they would not support a budget that does nothing for the people they 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 allocation to capital expenditure, which capital component will only be implemented 30 percent whilst recurrent will be implemented 100 percent,” he said.

He wondered how a country could stimulate its economy and population 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. 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 has not given explanations, but seeks to borrow more money. 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 N500 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 added.

Speaking on the morality of their decision, Gbajabiamila explained that they believe that it is better to stop executive bills and a meaningless budget than to lose one single life through the recklessness of government. >  “For those who do not know the full implications of what happened to Senator Magnus Abe and, who choose to believe that his absence means nothing compared to the non passage of the budget, let’s picture this. A national budget is supposed to have the input of every representative of the National Assembly to make it truly national.

“It can be argued that one of the most important duties or responsibility of an elected representative is to speak on behalf of his constituency and address their needs in the budget making process. Well, Senator Abe represents a district that comprises one third of Rivers State and by extrapolation a sizable number of its citizens who are also Nigerians.

“What then would happen to them in the 2014 Budget, when their senator lies in a hospital bed because of the impunity of the police and government? Because all citizens are equal, and we are our brother’s keepers, we will be happy to keep the capital component of this budget in abeyance until every Nigerian is fully represented. We are also happy to isolate the police component of the budget,” he concluded.

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