By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the National Assembly members to ensure the speedy passage of five Executive bill before it to help his anti-corruption war.
The bills are the Money Laundering and Prevention Bill of 2016, Bills for Acts for domestication of agreements for avoidance of double taxation between Nigeria and South Korea, Spain and Sweden respectively, Mutual legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016 the Federal Capital Territory Appropriation Bill, 2016 and Statutory Budget of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), 2016.
He made the appeal while hosting the members of the federal legislature and some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC at the presidential villa, Abuja on Monday night to a dinner to mark the 2016 democracy day and his one year in office.
The president who was particular about the Federal Capital Territory Appropriation Bill, 2016 and Statutory Budget of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), 2016, stated that the bodies would be financially handicapped to execute their project and run the affairs of their offices if their budget was not passed.
While pledging to uphold the principles of separation of powers, President Buhari also expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for passing the 2016 budget.
He said: “This is first, to mark the 2016 Democracy Day and further to appreciate the National Assembly leadership, membership and management for the great work they have done in considering and approving as thought fit several bills and measures submitted by the executive and those bills originated by the legislature which have enabled the government function according to law.
“Let me again appreciate the work of the National Assembly for the painstaking and consensual work they did with the Executive to deliver the 2016 Appropriation Act.
“It is on record that this is one rare occasion where the Appropriation Act was assented to with the schedule i.e the details. This is a good start in our journey of change.
“I seize this opportunity to please draw attention to the under listed bills which have been submitted to the National Assembly and appeal for accelerated consideration and passage.
“The bills include Bills for Acts of domestication of agreements for avoidance of double taxation between Nigeria and South Korea, Spain and Sweden respectively; Federal Capital Territory Appropriation Bill 2016; Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill 2016; Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016; and the Statutory Budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission 2016.
“I am conscious that on June 9, 2016, the National Assembly will complete one legislative year.
“May I appeal to you to consider and pass these submitted bills, particularly the statutory budget of the FCT, the NDDC Budget and the budget of statutory corporations.
“These bodies cannot execute their statutory mandate nor incur expenditure for the year unless their budgets are approved by the National Assembly.
“I hereby re-state the commitment of this administration to observe the principles of separation of powers which defines and delineates the functions and powers of each arm of government.
“Thus far, we in the executive have restricted ourselves to our constitutional roles. Therefore I, as the President, and we as the Executive arm of government will not interfere in the functions, functioning and process of the Legislature nor the Judiciary.
“In the same vein, I urge other arms of government to please appraise and ensure that each action conceived and taken by it is in strict accord with its constitutionally limited powers.
“I urge you as legislators and the legislature to take out time and communicate with your constituents and other Nigerians the policies of the government which are based on laws approved by the National Assembly.”
Making his remarks earlier, the senate president and chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki, appreciated President Buhari for invitation to dinner.
He was also excited that the country has practiced 17 years of uninterrupted democracy, saying “it shows that our democracy has matured.
“We will request for more and more of this kind of interaction, now that the budget has been released the food will be more sumptuous. It will strengthen our relationship with the executive and solidify the democracy of our country”, he said.
Among those who graced the dinner were former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, the leader of All Progressive Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun, Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and APC Deputy national chairman, south, Segun Oni.