By Henry Umoru
SENATE President Bukola Saraki said, yesterday, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not consult with the leadership of the National Assembly before the executive approved the release of $1 billion for the purchase of arms to fight insecurity in the country.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, had, last week, said, Buhari gave approval for the purchase of equipment for the military worth $1 billion.
Saraki also said that the leadership of the National Assembly was not aware of the plan by the executive to get N4.2 billion bonds until the President wrote to the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking approval for the issuance of promissory note to offset inherited local debts.
Buhari had, in the letters, said that his administration inherited by debt, just as he said that the decision to seek the approval of the National Assembly by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, was in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The Senate President however, attributed the delay in the process of budget passage and addressing issues of security challenges in the country as well as other national issues to what he described as avoidable friction between the executive and legislative arms of government.
Declaring open, yesterday, in Jos, Senate Press Corps Retreat, the Senate President who warned that the executive could not do it alone, said that if Nigeria truly wants democracy, it was imperative that the legislative arm must be strengthened at all levels of government.
Saraki noted that institutions are not built on individuals but on institutions, just as he stressed that until such a psyche was was removed in our environment, the nation’s democracy will continue to be threatened.
“Just few days ago, there was the issue of providing funding for the purchase of security equipment. In a good environment, such an issue needed to have been discussed with lawmakers. Already, some senators are angry. They said they were not consulted by the executive before such a decision was taken. These are the issues we are talking about.”
Arguing that the friction between the two arms of government goes beyond party affiliations the Senate President said: “Even during the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, when PDP was in charge of the executive and the legislature, there were frictions. It means it is not about the party. It is not about any individual. It is about the system.”