National Assembly gives Presidency one-week ultimatum over 2013 budget
The House of Representatives had on Thursday declared that President Goodluck Jonathan has until February 27 to sign the 2013 budget or have his veto overridden.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, made this declaration on Thursday while addressing the matter in Abuja. He affirmed that the House was bent at not making concessions on the budget.
Olamilekan revealed that the House would take appropriate action should Jonathan fails to sign the 2013 appropriation on the given date.
According to him, the House’s decision to issue an ultimatum came after the lawmakers had sat over the budget matter severally.
He said, “February 27 is the deadline. We cannot continue to wait while the year is going and Nigerians are suffering.
“We said February 27 because that date will take care of every excuses of delay here and there.
“The President sent a budget of N4.9tn to the National Assembly and we passed a budget of N4.9tn with just a difference of N63bn.
“Let them come and tell Nigerians what their problem is. They should itemize them because there is no sub-head in the budget that has no explanations.
“There is nothing that we are going to drop from the budget; we won’t meet any of their conditions.”
Jonathan had earlier sent in a budget estimate of N4.924tn but the lawmakers added it up to N4.987tn for his assent.
A member of the Action Congress of Nigeria,Olamilekan said the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was the “major stumbling block” regarding the continuous delay of the budget passage.
He blamed the Minister for forcing her ideas on Nigerians, and not the “collective interests of the Nigerian people expressed through their representatives” as guided by the law of the land.
The lawmaker added, “Our only crime was that the government should fund projects that are already ongoing rather than abandoning them for new ones.
“We said, Put more money to complete the projects, they wanted to introduce new ones; that is the issue.
“We know that all over this country, projects are abandoned and we have to change the trend.”
House of Representatives Spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, said it would be either that Jonathan sign the budget “by next week or the House would override the President’s power”
Mohammed said, “Nigerians will be informed accordingly as developments unfold. As a legislature, we are not afraid to do what is constitutionally required.
“I am sure that the National Assembly will act appropriately.”
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala who spoke on behalf of the Executive on Thursday, said negotiations over the budget were still ongoing, as the President and the National Assembly members were working towards harmonising areas of disagreement.
Culled from Daily Post
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