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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Monday explained that the Legislature was not bound by law to pass the budget as presented by the Executive.
Dogara, while reacting to a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari that the 2019 budget cannot be implemented as passed by the National Assembly, noted that the job of the National Assembly was not to agree with the executive.
“I don’t think any congress in the world does that. By the constitution and design, the Executive informs us what they intend to do and the representatives of the people in the National Assembly decide what is priority since they represent the people,” he said.
Dogara insisted that the problem would remain “a nutty area that we would continue to define the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature.”
“Whether it is Britain or US, wherever it is, there is always a strained relationship because of this issue of budget, because it deals with high-stake distributional issues as to who gets what, which part of Nigeria gets this and that, so it will continually be an issue,’’ Dogara said.
“We should not be defined by those issues, rather we should define those issues by forming consensus. That is the path to progress and we will continue to do that.”
President Buhari had, while signing the 2019 budget into law at the Presidential Villa on Monday, raised issues concerning certain reductions that were made in the budget and some subhead increases that were made by the National Assembly, adding that such alterations would make it difficult for those projects to be implemented.
The President noted that there were ongoing plans to have discussions with the leadership of the National Assembly to make the projects implementable
The President also hinted of plans to align the appropriation from January to December, just like the case in the private sector.
But Dagara, who represented the Leadership of the National Assembly at the budget signing, applauded the plans but added that: “It must start with the early and timely submission of the budget to the National Assembly from the executive.
“A situation where the budget is submitted in December, even if you shut down the entire National Assembly, we will not be able to achieve the January deadline,” he noted.
He added that going forward this would be a collective exercise between the Executive and the Legislature. Being a law, he said, the budget falls within the purview by constitution and design of the National Assembly to make the law.
“In most cases, it is the National Assembly that decides how federally generated receipts should be expended and the National Assembly took that decision and we are glad that the president has signed it into law.