By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — THE All Progressives Congress, APC, caucus in the House of Representatives, yesterday, expressed disenchantment with the ruling party by opposing passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, virement of N180 billion for critical infrastructure and the foreign loan request of $29.9 billion from President Muhammadu Buhari, during their caucus meeting, last night.

The APC caucus in its closed-door meeting, Vanguard gathered, expressed dissatisfaction with the manner the Presidency and the party’s leadership had handled executive/legislature face-off which members said had made APC members, with the majority number in the National Assembly, look like an opposition party.

President Buhari

However, the House had at plenary, resolved to consider the President’s request for virement of N180,839,254,430 for the implementation of critical capital projects in the 2016 budget.

Meanwhile, out of over 200 members of the APC in the House of Representatives, only 25 members attended the caucus meeting presided over by House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.

But Gbajabiamila, alongside the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun and the Deputy Chief Whip, Pally Iriase, had a hectic time trying to pacify aggrieved party members at the meeting, explaining that things would change for the better.

‘Everybody’s aggrieved’

A lawmaker, who was part of the meeting, told Vanguard on condition of anonymity: “Everybody is aggrieved. We said we are not going to pass the MTEF and virement. We said we are not going to approve the $29.9 billion loan request from the President.”

Although the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, was not at the meeting as he was said to be away to Kaduna on an assignment, the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, who presided over plenary earlier in the day, was said to have made frantic efforts, alongside some principal officers of the ruling party, to calm  frayed nerves at the meeting.

The source further claimed: “We were only about 23 or 25 at the meeting. People expressed very strong disapproval of the approach of the executive towards the legislature and the manner the party leadership has managed things, particularly the lack of cohesion by the leadership to manage the legislature and executive which has resulted in APC being in government and not in power and playing the role of opposition in a ruling party.

“Majority of us have the opinion that the virement should not fly but the leaders pleaded fervently that it should be passed.”

The source further said that the leaders had pleaded for caution from members so that their actions would not jeopardise the chances of the party in future, but members in their opposition told the leaders that before the party dies, they would all jump ship.

Reminded that the House passed the virement, yesterday, during plenary, he said what members did was to dump it with the Appropriation Committee and other relevant committees.

A staunch supporter of President Buhari from the North-West zone had on Tuesday, told Vanguard that if not that some of them had remained ardent supporters of the President, his impeachment would have been easy in the National Assembly due to his style of leadership.

The lawmaker, who belongs to the Transparency Group, the group opposed to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, in the House, alleged that President Buhari didn’t care about the welfare and interest of APC members.

The meeting was still ongoing at press time.

House to consider virement proposal

Meanwhile, the House had at plenary, resolved to consider President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for virement of N180,839,254,430 for the implementation of critical capital projects in the 2016 budget.

The money is expected to be drawn from the N500 billion Special Intervention (recurrent and capital) fund, appropriated in the 2016 Appropriations Act which was signed into law in May 2016.

To this end, the House resolved to refer the request to the Committee on Appropriations and other committees to which the virement relates to serve as sub-Committees of the Committee on Appropriations for further legislative action.

This was sequel to the adoption of the motion promoted by the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, APC, Surulere Fed Constituency, Lagos, who explained that the “request was necessitated by a number of reasons, including shortfalls in provision of personnel cost, the inadequate provision for the Amnesty programme, the need to sustain the war against insurgency and the depreciation of the naira.

“In the course of Implementing the Appropriation Act, 2016, several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, presented issues pertaining to salary shortfalls as it affects the MDAs that are not under the platform of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, and some MDAs that are under the IPPIS platform would be locked out as their personnel cost budget would not cover salaries for the rest of the year.”

Need for virement, by Buhari

According to Buhari, the request for virement is premised on “the fact that budgeted revenues are running behind target largely due to the renewed violence in the Niger Delta, and there are no supplementary revenue sources.”



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