By Emman Ovuakporie, Ben Agande & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — All Progressives Congress, APC, members in the House of Representatives put their threat to shut the affairs of the Federal Government in higher gear when they vowed to block funding for the Nigeria Police and all capital projects in the 2014 Appropriation Bill.
Rising from the House session, yesterday, the APC lawmakers promised to throw up a doctrine of necessity to allow the National Assembly push through a budget that would only allow the payment of salaries and other necessary recurrent expenditure of government.
The plans by the APC were dismissed by the Presidency which described it as anti-democratic and a direct attack on the Nigerian people.
Deputy leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the House, Rep. Leo Ogor, on his part described the threat from the APC as a joke from jesters.
The APC legislators, who addressed the press after plenary, noted that they would follow their party’s directive and would focus on appropriations to the police and capital projects.
Noting the weight of the APC in the House, the APC legislators, who were led to the press conference by the APC leader, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, noted the failure of the PDP leader to push through any motion or bill in the last two months since the APC achieved its majority status in the House.
He also flayed what he described as President Goodluck Jonathan’s disdain for the National Assembly through his action in sending an employee of the government to present the 2014 budget proposals.
“As far as the House is concerned, keen observers would have noticed that since last year, most bills presented on the floor of the House through the PDP leader in the House, Mulikat Adeola, have suffered an almost instant and premature death,” he said.
“While the focus for now remains the happenings in Rivers, our broad and overall concern remains good governance and covers the whole gamut of our national life.
“Let us be categorical, we intend to continue to protest the culture of impunity, immorality and illegality this government insists in entrenching in our system.
“We intend to insist on good governance, we intend to stand firm on our oath of office to defend the constitution and discharge our legislative duties in the interest of the people of Nigeria. Good governance is the end goal and filibustering or stalling executive bills is the means and we believe that in this case the end definitely justifies the means.
On the budget
“On the budget itself, we will not support a budget that does nothing for the people we represent. We will not rubber stamp a budget that seeks to borrow more money at ridiculous rates and further impoverish the country.
“Indeed, we refuse to support a budget that comes in with a huge deficit. We certainly do not agree with a budget that allocates a pitiable 25 per cent for capital expenditure which capital component will only be implemented 30 per cent while recurrent will be implemented 100 per cent.
“How in the world do you stimulate an economy the size and population of Nigeria with a 25 per cent allocation to capital?
“We do not want to be accessories after the fact by passing a budget when the President or Minister of Finance, who has publicly admitted to the disappearance of $10 billion has not given explanations but seeks to borrow more money. And who continues to blame shortfall in revenue on crude theft by some phantom thieves.
“More importantly, we will not be party to the appropriation of funds and tax payers money to a police force that will turn around and use same to maim and kill the same tax payers. No we will not!
On presentation of budget
“Let us quickly add at this point that the first disdain and contempt for the budgeting process and Nigerians came from Mr President himself when against all known democratic tradition, at least in this country, sent his employee to present the budget to the National Assembly and for the first time in our history representatives and indeed Nigerians did not have the opportunity of hearing their President address the country on the state of the nation, the performance of the last budget and the contents and objectives of the new budget.
“Whilst the constitution was interpreted by apologists not to require his presence, they failed to address the break in tradition, the spirit behind the provision of the constitution and the implications of the action.
“Perhaps, next time we can expect a Special Assistant of the President to present the budget for him to mail it to the National Assembly as he would then be said to have ’caused’ it to be laid before both Houses of the National Assembly as provided by the constitution.
“In coming to this decision, we note that salaries of many innocent Nigerians are tied to the budget.
“However, we will do all we can to address this catch. We will hope that our progressive colleagues will agree to an ingenious and creative idea like we did through the doctrine of necessity to isolate the recurrent expenditure and perhaps for the first time pass a recurrent only budget.”
APC lawmakers are jesters —Ogor
Countering the APC’s position, Deputy Leader of the House, Rep Ogor said: “If you do not allocate money to police, who will secure lives and property of Nigerians they claim they represent?
“Are they going to bring armed robbers to guard Nigerians or create their own police?”
Ogor dismissed the call by APC as “one of the biggest jokes this new year and a clear testimony that APC lawmakers are jesters.
“We do not need them to pass the budget, we have the constitutional number in PDP to get Budget 2014 passed.”
You are endangering democracy— Presidency
Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who flayed the APC plans at a press briefing following the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, said it was a direct attack on the economy.
He said: “If you say that the budget should not be passed, it means you want to stop the nation’s economy.
“When you say they should block bills which are for the development of the country and the well-being of the people, you are killing democracy itself and you are truncating national development.
“I believe that was a mistake, it must have been one of those slips of tongues. This democracy should be supported. If this nation progresses, it does not belong to Goodluck Jonathan alone or any party.”