Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday made good its threat to block all legislative proposals that emanate from the presidency, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill when the opposition’s lawmakers scored the first point on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Led by Hon. Emmanuel Jime, chairman, House Committee on Federal Capital Territory, the opposition party gave sign that the bill, which seeks for an act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation the total sum of N4.642,960,000,000 would not scale through second reading on the floor of the House.
As a result, the consideration of the 2014 Appropriation Bill by the House was stalled until next Tuesday.
But Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker, raised a six-man committee to advise the House on the path to follow in considering the budget within 24 hours.
Hardly had Tambuwal introduced the bill, which was the first order of the day on the Order Paper, and asked for it to be seconded than Jime, who recently defected from Benue State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC, raised a point of order.
While the floor of the House went dead with silence to understand where the lawmaker was heading, having obtained the speaker’s permission to take the floor, Jime observed that the budget had breached Section 21(1,2&3) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
Jime, who pointed out that the executive arm of government had breached the provision of the Act by hurriedly preparing the budget, noted that what was submitted to the House was the abridged summary of the budget.
“What we have is the abridged summary of this estimate. We cannot accept the minister’s summary of the budget. We must never accept the breach of our law. This particular budget presentation was a breach of our law, and we cannot continue to have the executive arm of government to continue to breach our laws.
“History is going to judge this parliament for standing on what is just,” he said.
Jime, who argued that most agencies of the government’s budget were not represented in the budge, prayed the House to suspend discussion on the matter.
Hon. John Enoh, chairman, committee on appropriation, however, rose in disagreement with Jime.
In his submission, he pointed out that it was not in the totem of the parliament to wait until budget estimates of various agencies arrived the House before opening debates on the budget.
Noting that it behoved on the House to decide what to do with the budget when the consideration began, Enoh underscored the importance of budget in the nation’s national life.
“I disagree with what my colleague said that the budget breached any law whatsoever. There is no time any member of this House has raised objection in the course of this national budget that the budget of NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) must be brought.
“The budget of any country is the most important document of any country. It is not a matter of convenience. It is a matter of importance. So, the consideration should go ahead,” Enoh said.
Enoh’s argument elicited cheers and applauses from members of the ruling PDP and supporting parties, an indication that the PDP members through Enoh had marshalled out stronger point to outwit their opponents.
Sensing that the situation could go out of hand, the speaker called the House to order.
He promptly raised a five-man committee, who were charged to look at the legal implications of considering the budget, and advice the House within 24 hours.
Members of the committee include; Albert Sam-Tsokwa, Sunday Adepoju, Ali Ahmad, Chukwuemeka Nwaogbo, Ken Chikere and Aminu Shagari.
Recall that APC, rising from its 8th regular meeting, the Interim National Executive Committee, had 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.
“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 parts.
Meanwhile, the House has adjourned plenary to allow its APC members to attend the flag-off of the party’s nationwide registration, which kicks off on Wednesday.
The speaker announced that the leaderships of both Senate and House have agreed that plenary would not hold on Wednesday and Thursday this week to enable APC carry out the registration of its members in the National Assembly.