The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, reminded the presidency that non implementation of the Appropriation Act is an impeachable offence.
Dogara also insisted that the National Assembly has powers to introduce new projects, add, remove or reduce items in the Appropriation Bills in a presidential system of government.
“When it comes to the budget, the power of the purse in a presidential system of government rests in the parliament”, he stated.
Apparently reacting to comment made by Acting President Osinbajo suggesting that the legislative arm of government lacks the constitutional right to inflate the budget proposal submitted to it by the executive arm of government, Dogara said the 8th National Assembly was not a rubber stamp legislature.
“I don’t even want to believe that the acting president made that statement; I don’t want to believe that, sincerely speaking. Because when it comes to the issue of the budget, I think we better say this thing and make it very clear, so that our people will have a better understanding. When it comes to the budget, the power of the purse in a presidential system of government rests in the parliament”, he said.
Speaking on a motion on matters of privilege sponsored by the member representing Yola North/Yola South/Girei of Adamawa state, Hon. Lawal Abubakar, Dogara insisted the constitution vests the powers of law making in the legislature, the power to execute or implement is vested in the executive, while the judiciary interprets the law so as to ensure checks and balances.
“A declaration as to which of the arms has the power and rights, in as much as it is related to the interpretation of the law, is the function of the judiciary and not of the executive”, he noted.
According to the Speaker, “the only other option open to the executive is to say because we didn’t assent to this, this is the budget of the parliament, so we will not implement. But the point is that all of them, including us, are under an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land. Then the question that will follow is if this a law of the land and the answer is yes.
“We are men of honour whether legislators or executive we are bound by the oath of office to faithfully execute that law and in the case of the executive, if it is not done, all of us know the very consequences. I don’t want to call it by its name, we know the consequences”, he added.
Abubakar had argued that his privilege as a member was breached by statements credited to Acting President Osinbajo who was quoted to have said on two occasions that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects to the budget before passing it.
To this effect, Dogara noted that the Appropriation Act is a law enacted by the parliament and that public officers, from the president to his ministers, have sworn to uphold the constitution and the said refusal or failure to implement the budget is violation of the constitution, which has consequences.
The Speaker also stated that in the event of refusal to assent to any bill by the executive, the constitution empowers the National Assembly to override such veto in the interest of the public.