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The senseless insertions and padding of the budget

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Obunike Ohaegbu on

For almost a month now, the Member of the House of Representatives representing the Bebeji/Kiru Federal Constituency of Kano State, Hon. Abdulmumin Jubril has been on the media as “accidental activist”.

I wouldn’t want to discuss his choice of words whenever he talks about the number 4 citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. 

He freely refers to the Speaker and some selected members of the House of Representatives as “rogues”, “thieves” etc. 

I am still trying to imagine how he would feel sitting in the hallowed Chambers of the House of Representatives as a decent and Hon. Member if he fails in his bid for the “regime change” in the House. 

Would he rather resign than allow “rogues and thieves” preside over him?

Also, I wouldn’t want to comment on the over bloated impressions he has about himself. 

That probably explains why he has not seen anything wrong that as a Chairman of the Committee of the House, he could schedule meetings with the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without any recourse to the Leadership of the House nor the Members of his Committee but surprisingly believed that he could make commitments that would be binding on the entire House of Representatives.

On whose authority?

On this piece, I want to look at the allegations of “senseless insertions” and “paddings” of the Budget made against some members of the leadership of the House.

The critical question is whether there could have been any “senseless insertions ” and “padding of the Budget” when there was No Budget in existence.

Government Budget has been defined as “an estimate of income and expenditure approved for a set period of time”. 

For the purposes of this piece, the set period would be considered to be a year running from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.  

Would it be right to say that we had a Budget to be “inserted” or “padded” before the President signed the Appropriation Bill into Law?

Section 80 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) (after herein referred to as the Constitution) expressly states that:

“No moneys shall be withdrawn from the public fund of the federation…unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly”.

The Section 81 of the Constitution is very clear on the role of the Executive is the Budgetary procedures.

 Section 81(1) of the Constitution states that:

“The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year ESTIMATES of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next following financial year”.

It is very clear from the provisions of the above section of the Constitution that the only role the President plays in the budgetary procedures is just to submit the ESTIMATES to the National Assembly.

Furthermore, Section 81(2) was very clear on what should be done to the “ESTIMATES” submitted by the President.  It expressly states that:

“The heads of the expenditure contained in the ESTIMATES…shall be included in a BILL, to be known as an Appropriation Bill…”

The implication of this Section is that what the President does is to submit ESTIMATES from which the National Assembly can prepare a Bill for proper legislative processes to be passed into law and by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the Constitution, the Legislative powers of the Federation is vested on the National Assembly.

So, if all that transpired with the ESTIMATES submitted by the President before the document is taking back to the President for assent into law is considered part of the legislative processes which the National Assembly has the powers to do, can any lawmaker be accused of any wrongdoing in whatever he does at within the process of the passage of the Appropriation Bill?

The Legislative Houses(Powers and Privileges) Act Cap L12 in Section 3 expressly provides that :

No Civil or Criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of a Legislative House

(a) in respect of words spoken before that House or a Committee thereof; or

(b) in respect of words written in a report to that House or any Committee thereof ….”

So, assuming without conceding that any Member of the House at the process of passing the 2016 Appropriation Bill committed any “crime”, can such person be prosecuted by any agency of the government on the face of this express provision on Immunity from proceeding provided in our Statute book?

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