Criticisms have continued to trail the Emergency Economic Stabilization Bill, 2016 proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari with the latest coming from a political pressure group in Akwa Ibom State, the Akwa Ibom Vanguard.
Briefing journalist in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital on Friday, the spokesperson for the group, Senator Anietie Okon warned that such bill if passed by the National Assembly will amount to a flagrant disregard of the supremacy of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (as amended).
Okon who urged the National Assembly to ignore the bill, Senator Okon argued that the proposed bill will amount to a coup d’etat against the Federating Units and the constitutional provisions that protect them.
“Suspension of any part of the 1999 constitution to give room for the so called emergency powers will be tantamount to relapsing into a dictatorship, tyranny and avoidable invitation to anarchy.
“Such suspension is reminiscent of an era when the military abdicated their primary responsibilities and turned equipment and personnel to wage war against constituted authorities by suspending the Constitution.
“It is obvious that the elements of the present leadership, including the President live in a time warp in which suspension of the Constitution were derigueru”, he stated.
Okon said a careful analysis of event in the country show that President Buhari’s administration is steadily and dangerously promoting Presidential parochialism, primodialism, anarchy and lawlessness by seeking sweeping emergency powers using the economy as a guise.
Regretting, he said “It is appalling that this is happening in a supposedly democratic administration in which the Vice President is a Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria who is expected to advise the President on issues of law and the Constitution properly”.
He told the National Assembly that granting the emergency economic powers to the President will automatically strip it of the constitutional powers of appropriation or render whatever remains of its powers meaningless as the President will assume the latitude to spend money from the commonwealth without necessarily submitting such expenditures to budgetary approvals.
“The grant of emergency economic powers to President Muhammadu Buhari in addition to the enormous powers already wielded by him, will most certainly turn him into a dictator and make nonsense of our democracy and statehood.”, he insisted.
Senator Okon said the recent granting of foreign exchange subsidy and waiver by President Buhari, by executive fiat for religious tourism instead of businesses and industries now sourcing for foreign exchange for legitimate pursuits was a clear example of the abuse the emergency economic powers will be used for.
He equally expressed fear that the bill will be used to grant a few privileged power merchants the opportunity to rake-in billions of dollars without work to the detriment of the greater majority of Nigerians and to the national productivity goals.
“It is our further position that the interest of the Niger Delta region is at the risk of being trampled upon by the grant of emergency economic powers to the President as such powers could be deployed to deprive the region of the already paltry 13% derivation and continually relegate the region to the abyss of perpetual underdevelopment.” he added.
According to him, for Nigeria to get out of the current economic recession, the President must first fix the current political malaise arising from executive lawlessness which has drastically eroded the confidence of foreign investors.
“The Executive arm of government headed by the President should begin to accord respect to valid court orders so as to give confidence to investors.
As a way forward, Okon said under the present state of our laws, the President already has wide range of executive powers derived from the said laws to reverse the economic hardship and depression currently raging in Nigeria.
He maintained the President should gird himself to meet the challenge of leadership and stop blaming the past regimes, saying “there can be no justifications and excuses for the many economic miscalculations of this administration.”
Also, the President was asked to re-asses his team and makes changes or replacements where necessary and lifts himself above ethnic, regional, religious and political partisanship and form an economic team made up of experts drawn from home and the diaspora as was done by his predecessors.
“Rather than approach the National Assembly for emergency economic powers, the President should as a matter of urgency forward a bill proposing a law to give the states the rights to control and exploit the natural and mineral resources embedded in their domain.
“The president should encourage regional economic collaboration and integration, investments in agronomy, inter-state commerce, joint electricity projects amongst several others.
He said the multi-layered crisis plaguing Nigeria revolves around diminishing economic rights and opportunities.
“Whether it is the Boko Haram insurgency, or the scourge of Fulani herdsmen, or the Niger Delta struggle or even the agitation for Biafra, the underlying propellant for all the crisis is a failed economy and the impunity of economic and structural exclusions.
“The President should as a matter of urgency and patriotic imperative look inwards, review his policies and find immediate solutions to our collapsing economy without waiting for emergency economic powers”, Senator Okon stated.