Ahead 2015:PDP, APC Govs, lawmakers in crucial meeting
By EMMAN OVUAKPORIE AND LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU
ABUJA-AGAIN in the last two weeks of the House of Representatives legislative business, All Progressives Congress, APC legislators Tuesday stalled the debate on Budget 2014.
The House of Representatives out of fear that APC lawmakers may carry out its leadership directive to stall all executive bills deliberately omitted the 2014 budget from all proceedings last week.
Hardly had the leader of the House, Mulikat Adeola-Akande introduced the Bill and asked for it to be seconded than a newly defected member of the House from PDP to APC, from Benue State, Rep Emmanuel Jime raised a point of order.
At that point, the chamber appeared cold,an apparent sign that something ominous was in the offing.
Granted by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal who presided, Jime stood up and meticulously read Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Subsequently, he argued that the Executive Arm of the Government had breached the provision of the Act by hurriedly preparing the budget.
He submitted that what was submitted to the House is the abridged summary of the budget, saying that most agencies of the government’s budget were not represented in the budget and later prayed the House to suspend discussion on the matter.
“What we have is the abridged summary of this estimate. We cannot accept the Minister’s summary of the budget. We must never accept the breach of our law.
“This particular budget presentation was a breach of our law and we cannot continue to have the Executive Arm of government to continue to breach our laws. History is going to judge this parliament for standing on what is just,” he said.
He said, “an account of the missing A$10.8billion has not been given to Nigerians and you want us to discuss the 2014 budget. ”
Apparently on a rescue mission, presiding officer of the House, Aminu Tambuwal quickly set up a six man-panel to look into questions raised by Rep Jime after Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, Rep John Enoh, PDP, Cross Rivers state tried to puncture Jime’s submission on the budget.
Jime in his 8 minutes submission had argued that the 2014 budget was not accompanied by estimates as required by Section 21 sub section 1,2 and 3 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.
Enoh in a bid to puncture the argument of Rep Jime said”the executive arm did not in any way breach the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007. ”
He further argued that “the executive arm of government in the last 3 years has been in full compliant of the law.
“The estimates as the practice in the last 3 years is always accompanied by summaries and the estimates are attached”.
“As we speak the necessary estimates as our practice has been sent to different committees to work…..claps to work on. ”
“The estimates that has to do with NNPC has been sent to committees on Downstream and Upstream sectors of Petroleum Resources….further claps from PDP members… the ones for the banking sector I mean Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN has been …..more claps to Banking and Currency. ”
He added that it behoved the House to decide what to do with the budget when the consideration began.
In any case, the lawmaker further underscored the importance of budget in the nation’s national life.
“I disagree with what my colleague said that the budget breached any law whatsoever. There is no time any member of this House has raised objection in the course of this national budget that the budget of NNPC, CBN must be brought.
“The budget of any country is the most important document of any country. It is not a matter of convenience. It is a matter of importance. So, the consideration should go ahead, Enoh said.
Enoh’s argument however was made amid intermittent cheers and applauses from obviously members of the PDP.
The cheers were an indication that the PDP members through Enoh had marshalled out strong point to outwit their opponent.
Even when he was done with the submission, a look around the House showed that emotions were still high as APC members looked poised to counter PDP’s stand on the budget.
But sensing an imminent showdown on the floor, the Speaker concocted a smart move to save the day.
He announced the constitution of a six-man panel to look into the legality issue as raised by Jime and asked the panel to advise him on the next line of action within 24 hours.
Those in the panel include: Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep Albert Sam-Tsokwa, his deputy, Rep Ken Chikere, Chairman House Committee on Justice, Rep Ahmad Ali and his deputy, Emmanuel Nwogbo, Chairman House committee on Judiciary, Shehu Shagari and his deputy, Rep Sunday Adepoju.
This development doused the over tensed situation of the House.
Also yesterday, the House adjourned till next week Tuesday to enable APC legislators go to their various constituencies and register.
Meanwhile, APC lawmakers and six of their governors held a meeting to plan ahead of 2015 election.
Also the PDP Reps caucus held a meeting from 8.30pm till 11pm on Monday night.
The National Assembly Complex was temporarily seized Monday night by leaders and governors of the opposition
All Progressives Congress ,APC, who for hours locked themselves in a crucial political meeting with members of the House of Representatives of APC standing.
The meeting which started exactly 9pm had in attendance the interim national chairman of the party, chief Bisi Akande, Bola Tinubu and governors of Imo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Nassarawa, Kwara, Lagos and Kano.
The leadership said they were on a solidarity visit to their members at the national assembly.
Speaking in their turns, the leaders expressed gratitude to lawmakers, saying that they have shown resilience in the midst of daunting challenges in the recent past.
They praised the members for standing their grounds despite seeming lobbying and threats from the ruling party and charged them not to relent in their effort to build a better Nigeria.
Rep Femi Gbajabiamila opened the floor by saying that APC lawmakers made progress yesterday in their struggle to maintain majority in the House.
He said”the membership of APC in the House is averaging between 172 and 174 and we are still in majority.”
He was however optimistic that before long, APC would assume the leadership of the House.
Also speaking, the interim National Chairman of the Party, Chief Bisi Akande commended the lawmakers for being resolute.
He said: “we are dealing with very desperate government but we are anxious to be with you. What you have done is commendable in the face of a barbaric government.”
He reminded them that the task of saving Nigeria from the hands PDP, predicting that before the end of next 3 months, PDP would have gone into extinction.
Lending his Voice, the former Governor of Lagos State, Chief Bola Tinubu told the members that the party was behind them in every of their effort to salvage the country.
He urged them to first take the interest of the party at heart before theirs.
“Don’t look at the problems but offer hope by trying to rescue Nigeria. If you are comfortable and your neighbour or your brother is not, you have danger around,” he said.
Other speakers at the meeting were Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, senator Ali Modu Sherrif, governors Rochas Okorocha, Tanko Almakura, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Abiola Ajimobi, Babatunde Fashola, Rauf Aregbesola and the deputy governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
The APC Governors while speaking said that they were aware of the PDP’s plan to ‘buy’ their members and assured the lawmakers of their backing, asked them not to be deterred by a few of their colleagues who defected to PDP.
Vanguard however gathered that one of the reasons for the emergency meeting was to plan ahead on how budget 2014 can be jettisoned on the floor of the House on Tuesday.
This came to fore when Rep Jime raised legal implications of reading the budget as Section 21 was breached by the executive arm.
Also, Vanguard gathered from a top ranking member of the House that the “essence of our PDP meeting is to ensure nothing happens to the budget on the floor of the House today,yesterday”.
This was also showcased on the floor of the House as the PDP members attendance yesterday was shocking.
They came and supported Rep John Enoh who led their debate against Rep Emmanuel Jime who led the opposition debate yesterday.
They clapped when necessary and shouted when the occasion demands it. #