Members of the National Assembly have pushed for changes to the 2022 Appropriation Bill, including a reduction in the number of projects allocated to 10,733 and the addition of 6,576 new ones.
According to the lawmakers, the National Assembly has the power of appropriation conferred on it by the constitution, which allows it to tinker with the Federal Government’s budget like any other bill.
According to members who spoke to our correspondents in separate interviews on Sunday, the changes made and the response by President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), demonstrated that the legislature was not a rubber stamp for the Executive, as Nigerians have claimed.
Buhari expressed strong reservations about the “worrisome changes” made by the National Assembly to the Federal Government’s budget while signing the 2022 Appropriation Bill and the 2021 Finance Bill into law on Friday.
He argued that the National Assembly’s cuts to funding for several of these projects could make them “un-implementable” or delay their completion, particularly some of the administration’s strategic capital projects.
Following the resumption of parliament, the President stated that he would approach the National Assembly with a request for amendment so that critical ongoing projects critical to his regime would not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), backed up the President’s position, telling The PUNCH that it was illegal for the National Assembly to insert projects into the President’s budget proposal.
While the legislative branch of government had the authority to adjust figures and amend the budget, it lacked the authority to introduce new projects, according to the senior advocate.
He also claimed that the National Assembly was attempting to usurp the executive branch’s powers, which explains the lawmakers’ proclivity for completing projects.
“Yes, the National Assembly has the authority to deduct funds from specific projects,” Sagay added. They do not, however, have the authority to include projects in the budget.
“It is a pity that the executive has been blackmailed to swallow this bitter pill. The functions of the executive are being taken over by the legislature because they are afraid that if they protest, the National Assembly will not approve the budget. It is pure blackmail.
“The National Assembly members contest elections as lawmakers but when elected, they suddenly want to become part of the executive which is very sad. Constituency projects are part of it and it is illegal.”
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