By JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—THE National Conference Committee on Politics and Governance has recommended late submission of budget by the executive as an impeachable offence just as it pegged deadline of budget presentation before the legislature at September 30th of every.
If this recommendation sails through at the plenary billed to resume today and is subsequently captured in the constitution, any president who approaches the legislature with yearly budget beyond September 30th stands the risk of being impeached from office for breach of the constitution.
Former Minister of Information and Co-Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Jerry Gana, who briefed newsmen in Abuja on some of the recommendations of the committee, said it became imperative for the committee to inject the national budget cycle in the Constitution, given the crises it has generated over the years due to late submission.
Gana said the committee co-chaired by himself and Chief Olu Falae, frowned at what he referred to as “unnecessary delay on budget presentation and implementation by successive governments.”
The politician disclosed that his committee also recommended the unbundling of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in order to ensure conduct of free, fair and credible election in the country just as he said it equally recommended the establishment of a special court for trial of corruption-related cases, saying such would strengthen the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.
“We have made a very firm resolution of making sure that the budget cycle is put in the constitution. What we are recommending is that the Constitution should say, latest by 30th September or earliest working day before the 30th of September, the budget must be presented to the National Assembly.
“It will be an impeachable offence for anybody not to present budget before 30th of September. Then the National Assembly has the rest of October, November or latest 31st of December, or the earliest working day before the 31st of December, which the budget must be approved ready for implementation from January 1,” he said.
Prof. Gana regretted that a lot of time was often being wasted on budget processes, noting that such gave rise to his committee’s recommendation.
“We have recommended that budget cycle should be in the constitution and therefore as it were, you will be contravening the constitution if you don’t present the budget by 30 of September, ” he insisted.
Speaking on his committee’s recommendation for the establishment of a special court to try corruption cases, Prof. Gana, explained that the nation’s courts were at the moment being filled with cases, a situation he noted, always lead to delay in dispensation of justices.
He said the new order was to make special arrangements to run through the matters expeditiously and dispense the issues being looked at by the courts.
“We also took a series of decisions on corruption, and anti-corruption and the question of national ethics. We made a number of recommendations that if implemented will help Nigeria to be corruption-free country.
“This includes recommendation on setting up a special court to try corruption cases. Because right now cases are left in the courts for a very long time and we think we should have specialized courts to deal with this very rapidly, also fairly and justly,” he further clarified.
Gana, who emphasized the importance of conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country, disclosed that his committee also recommended that the INEC be unbundled into two institutions.
He explained that the INEC as presently constituted would deal only with arrangement for a free, fair and credible election, while another commission should be established to specifically deal with electoral offences.
He said: “The electoral offences should now be handled by Electoral Offences Commission, so that we don’t want to burden INEC with that because there are thousands of people that are involved in this and then it takes a lot of INEC attention. INEC attention should be on the conduct of good elections.”