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Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 budget: Jonathan lied, says Senate

The war of words between President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly may be far from over.
 The Senate yesterday said Jonathan lied over the role played by the National Assembly in the 2012 Budget.
On Monday, Jonathan and House of Representatives’ Speaker Aminu Waziri T ambuwal openly disagreed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja over the failure of the President  to assent to Bills passed by the National Assembly.
Jonathan fired back that the lawmakers are overreaching the separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.
Deputy Senate President yesterday at a Public Hearing on “A Bill to create Erosion control and prevention Commission (Establishment etc) 2012”  described as “distortion of facts” the claim of Jonathan that the National Assembly made inputs into the 2012 Budget that rendered it un-implementable.
 Ekweremadu said the Presidency has no excuse not to fully implement the budget.
He wondered why President Jonathan would accuse the National Assembly of tearing the 2012 budget into piece “when we sent it back substantially the way they brought it to us.”
He said the National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to appropriate for the country.
 He frowned at the refusal of President Jonathan to assent to numerous Bills passed by the National Assembly.
 He said: “Now this reminds me of what the President said during the democracy day symposium.
 “We expressed our displeasure over some of the Bills which we sent to the Presidency for assent since last year that have not received Presidential assent.
 “And in response, the President said that is because we are creating agencies. We will continue to create agencies if it is important because that is why we are here. So we have to do our job. If agencies are to be created, they need to be created. Just to add to that, most of those Bills have nothing to do with agencies.
 “I remember we have the State of the Nation Address Bill, it has nothing to do with agency and it has not been signed.
 “We have the National Health Bill. It has nothing to do with an agency. It has not been signed. We have the Air Force Institute of Technology Bill and Tobacco Bill.
 “A whole number of Bills that would have changed a lot of things for this country have not been signed.
 “So, my advice to the Executive Arm of Government is to dialogue with the legislature in matter like this and find a common ground, instead of shifting blames because the making of laws is dynamic.
 “If institutions are to be created they will definitely be created. Any person who thinks that the creation of institutions should stop is wasting his time. It would not stop because the society itself is dynamic.
 “I also believe that the issue which he also raised regarding the Appropriation Bill was also a distortion of facts.
 “The President said that we tore the Appropriation Bill into pieces which made it impossible for implementation. Certainly that is not so.
 “I am aware that the 2012 Appropriation Bill was returned to the Executive substantially the same way they brought it.
 “So we are challenging them to ensure that that Bill, the 2012 Appropriation Act is fully implemented.
 “We did that, we gave them back the Appropriation Bill the way it came mostly because all the years they have been complaining that they could not implement the budget because of the inputs of the National Assembly.
 “So this year we said we are not making any input; we are going to give you the Bill the way you brought it as a challenge to ensure that it is implemented.
 “So we expect them to implement it 100 per cent because that is their own vision.
 “Of course, he also made reference to a point where they wanted to go to court to challenge the role of the National Assembly in altering Appropriation Bills.
 “Well, that will be a welcome development.
 “So we want to suggest that the Executive should please take that step of going to the Supreme Court or any court they wish to look at the constitutionality of our role in terms of appropriation for this country.
 “We will be happy to see the outcome and of course, we will obey whatever the court says.”