Goddy Egene and Nume Ekeghe
With the recent controversy over the legislatureâ€™s powers to adjust the Appropriation Bill, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Dele Adeshina, has said tempering with the budget is an attempt by the legislature to surpass its powers.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had complained about the National Assemblyâ€™s alteration of figures in the 2017 budget estimates presented to it by the executive, saying the legislature lacked the powers to adjust or unilaterally introduce projects.
Osinbajoâ€™s comments received an instant backlash from the legislature.
But speaking on Arise Television, a sister broadcast station of THISDAY Newspaper last night, Adesina said: â€œI believe the position of the organic law of the land which is the constitution is clear and by Sections 4 and 5 of the constitution the powers of the legislature and that of the executive are clearly spelt out and Section 6 goes on to establish the power as of the judiciary.â€
â€œIn our constitution, there is what we call separation of powers. Even though this is not a water tight of separation of power, one arm can be a check in the sense that one organ of government can be a check on the other.
â€œI believe the present controversy is absolutely unnecessary. If people understand the scope and limit of their powers under the constitution. Let me state that the highest court of this country which is the Supreme Court has said over and over again that the constitution is the barometer for measuring what is right and what is wrong, what is valid and what is invalid, what is legal and what is illegal.â€
According to him, with all emphasis that the legislature, that is the National Assembly cannot fashion appropriation bill, the law insists that appropriation bill emanate from the executive but proposals on the estimate of expenditure and estimates of revenue must be initiated by the executive and be submitted to legislature who would pass it into law but it is clearly spelt out by the constitution.
â€œThe problem we have is an attempt to enlarge the powers of the national assembly beyond the stated provisions of the constitution. The national assembly in my own humble opinion cannot insert any new project into the appropriation bill. They cannot put in new issues that are not stipulated from the executive arm of government. Yes they have the power to pass it but that power of passing the appropriation bill into appropriation law has the process and that process include on the floor of the National Assembly and then they go the committee stage,â€ he said.