*Says it won’t cede constitutional powers to Executive
From: FRED ITUA, Abuja
Twenty four hours after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was discharged and acquitted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the upper chamber has warned the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo not to mistake its consultations with the Executive on important national issues to mean that it was ready to cede its constitutional powers.
The Senate was reacting to a statement credited to Osinbajo, where he was quoted to have said that the National Assembly has no right to introduce new projects or modify those contained in an appropriation Bill.
Osinbajo had alleged: “This last budget, the president presented it last December. Despite the assurances that it will be passed in by February, it was not until May.
“As it turned out, we were quite disappointed that it spent a bit of time before it was approved. And thereafter, we had to go into negotiations with the National Assembly in order to get it right.
“Now, there are these two broad issues about who can do what. The first report is about who can do what. When you present a budget to the National Assembly, it is presented as a bill, an appropriation bill.
“And secondly, do not introduce entirely new projects and all of that or modify projects. This is something that we experienced last year and this year again. It now leaves the question about who is supposed to do what.”
Reacting to a point of order raised by the Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Saraki said the “Senate will continue to defend the constitution and ensure that anything we do is in line with the laws of the land.”
Saraki added: “I want to say that there are times we have a number of consultations and I want to make it clear that these consultations we do with the Executive will not, at any time, mean that we will give up the powers we have in line with the Constitution.
“I want to reassure our members on this because it is very important based on what we have heard. You may be concerned that one way or another, leadership had given up some of these powers. That is not the case.
“But I believe that as responsible statesmen, there are times we consult and do our best to work with the Executive and assist them. But as we bend backwards, I do not think that should be misrepresented that powers given to us in the constitution do not exist. That is not the case.”
Na’Allah had, while raising the point of order, quoted various sections of the 1999 constitution as amended and maintained that the Acting President goofed in his claims.
Quoting from Section 80 of the constitution, Na’Allah said: “For the avoidance of doubt, this same constitution we operated from 1999 to date has section 80, and the title of section 80 is “Power and Control over Public Funds”.
“It reads that ‘all funds received by the Federation not being revenues of other monies payable under this constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose shall be payable to and for one consolidated fund of the Federation.
“No monies shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by the constitution or where the issue of those monies has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or Act passed in pursuance of Section 81 of the Constitution.
“No money shall be withdrawn from any public funds of the Federation other than the Consolidated revenue fund of the Federation unless the issue of those monies has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.
“No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly. That is the provision.”
Na’Allah wondered why a professor of law would not present the fact as it is. He said: “I know that the Acting President who is a Professor of Law is sufficiently trained in law to know that the National Assembly has powers to tinker with the budget. I am not making a case for him and I do not want to believe that he said what has been alleged that he said.
“I also want to assuage the fears of my colleagues that what was alleged to have been said does not represent the spirit of the framers of our Constitution. This explanation is necessary so that we put this matter to rest.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned till July.Read Full Story