The Nigerian National Assembly and acting president, Yemi Osinbajo are in disagreement over the recent 2017 budget that was passed to law.
The Senate has made it clear that it would not concede its constitutional powers to the executive arm of government.
Their stance came on a day Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also said the House would not serve as a rubber stamp to the executive arm.
Both arms of the National Assembly were reacting to a statement made by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, that the National Assembly had no powers to introduce new projects into the budget.
Osinbajo had said: This last budget, the President presented it last December. Despite the assurances that it will be passed by February, it was not, until May.
As it turned out, we were quite disappointed that it took a bit of time before it was approved. And thereafter, we had to go into negotiations with the National Assembly in order to get it right.
Now, there are these two broad issues about who can do what. The first report is about who can do what. When you present a budget to the National Assembly, it is presented as a bill, an appropriation bill.
Secondly, do not introduce entirely new projects and all of that or modify projects. This is something that we experienced last year and this year again. It now leaves the question about who is supposed to do what?
Responding to a Point of Order by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Saraki said: I am sure the Acting President must have been misquoted because there is clearly no ambiguity in the Constitution of the responsibility of the National Assembly.
This matter has been cleared and settled. So, I don’t think there are any issues here that are vague.
Saraki added that the Senate will continue to defend the constitution.
I believe that as responsible statesmen, there are times we consult and do our best to work with the executive and assist them.
But as we bend backward, I don’t think that should be misrepresented that powers given to us in the Constitution do not exist.
That is not the case, and this Senate will continue to defend the Constitution and ensure that anything we do is in line with the laws of the land.
I want to say that there are times we have a number of consultations and I want to make it clear that these consultations we do with the executive will not at any time mean that we will give up the powers we have in line with the constitution.
I want to reassure our members on this because it is very important. Based on what we have heard, you may be concerned that one way or another, the leadership had given up some of these powers. That is not the case.