The National Assembly will not project itself as an opposition to the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration by overriding a veto on the 2016 budget, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara said yesterday.
Dogara said this, just as he questioned constitutional stipulations reserving the preparation of the budget with the executive arm of government. Speaking when he received a delegation of APC elders and stakeholders from Kwande/Oshongo federal constituency of Benue State in the National Assembly,
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.” “We know our people cannot wait forever for the budget and as a responsible government, we cannot afford to go and sleep on this. “As we speak to you, I know that the executive has sent their observations on the budget, areas they termed “grey areas”. We have taken delivery of that document, we are looking into it and in collaboration with the senate, the entire National Assembly, we have arrived at a decision which I will not announce here because that one is for the ears of the President only. “It is in the overall national interest, we know that we have to find a solution and sooner than later, within this week, 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.” The Speaker, according to a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, said the National Assembly was well within its powers to make amendments to the budget before passing it because the role of the executive stopped at providing estimates to the legislature which prepares it into an Appropriation law.” Dogara said, “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. “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. “And 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. “If it is not assented to after some time then the parliament can summon the courage if they can to say they are overriding the veto powers of the president or say the bill will have to commence de novo. The speaker also gave the assurance that the present administration was 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. He said, “I know that we promised too much 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 that promise, 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. “But one thing I know in this narrative, no matter how negative they are, is that you can’t just look at the people who are in charge now in the eyes and say they are some sort of jokers or people who don’t mean what they promised. I can assure that all hands are still on deck to ensure that all that was promised is delivered to the people of Nigeria.” Dogara also expressed 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 subject of many motions on the floor of the House, he was happy to note that the government had started doing something about that.