National Assembly Funds: Buhari, Lawmakers May Clash Again
Few weeks after he was booed while presenting the 2019 Budget to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari may be in for another showdown with lawmakers on resumption of plenary in January.
This next showdown may occur if the executive fails to release funds appropriated to the federal parliament in the 2018 budget.
Some of the federal lawmakers alleged that the executive arm of government had withheld their money as a form of punishment.
The National Assembly increased its budget from N125bn allocated to it in 2017 to N139bn in 2018.
They, however, said rather than implement the N139bn allocated to them in 2018, the executive was still paying them based on the N125bn appropriated for them in the 2017 national budget.
The development worsened penultimate week, forcing the House of Representatives to summon the Minister of Finance, Aisha Mohammed, to explain the delay in the release of the funds, categorised as first-line charge.
But the minister attributed the non-implementation of the 2018 National Assembly budget to a gross revenue shortfall recorded by the Federal Government in the current fiscal year.
Obviously not satisfied with the minister’s explanation, the representatives demanded immediate full payment of the monthly release to the assembly put at N11bn monthly.
They lamented that the executive was still releasing N10bn monthly to the federal parliament based on the 2017 appropriation, despite the fact that the 2018 national budget was assented to in June this year.
The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf, said, “Clearly, the Appropriation Act has been breached; the law has been breached. Each month, the National Assembly receives money less by N1.2bn.”
Why Buhari Was Booed
A member of the House of Representatives from Ondo State, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his colleagues booed the President while presenting the 2019 budget proposal last week to show their grievances.
He said, “We will show him (Buhari) our true colours in January if he fails to release our money in full. He is deliberately treating us like this to ensure that we have nothing to mobilise our constituents for the February 16 elections.
“The Buhari government has also failed to fund our constituency projects, thereby depriving us of the opportunity to count them as part of our achievements.”
Another member from Oyo State, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that his colleagues were warming up for a showdown with the President, if he failed to fund their budget in full.
He stated, “That is exactly why we booed him when he came for the budget presentation and he should expect more in the New Year. As it is now, we cannot meet our obligations to our constituents, staff and National Assembly maintenance.”
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