James Emejo in Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the constitutional amendment bill which provides for early submission of budget proposals to the National Assembly by the president by September.
Delivering a remark at the resumption of plenary yesterday, the Speaker said as long as the bill is not signed into law, any talk of an orderly appropriations process would be mere cheap talk.
Buhari had among other things recently, rebuked the National Assembly for passing the 2018 budget seven months after he presented it to a joint session of the legislature.
However, the proposed amendment bill stipulates that the President shall prepare and lay before each House of the National Assembly estimates of revenue and expenditure 90 days before the end of the fiscal year.
It was transmitted to the president along other constitutional amendment bills some of which have been assented to by the president.
Dogara said: â€œIt is as a result of this that the National Assembly proposed an amendment to the section to require the President to submit the Appropriation Bill not later than 90 days to the end of the financial year.
â€œThe president has not yet signed this bill which is so critical to an orderly Appropriations process. Let me use this opportunity to remind the President of the fact that if this bill does not become law, any talk of an orderly appropriations process would be mere cheap talk.â€
According to him, â€œIt is important to reiterate once again that the National Assembly has the constitutional powers, duty and responsibility to intervene in the budgeting process to ensure equity, federal character and even distribution of projects and amenities to all nooks and crannies of this great country as direct representatives of the people.
â€œIt is also important to emphasise that the 2018 budget benefited from active cooperation and consultation between the Executive and Legislature during the Appropriation process. No doubt, Nigeriaâ€™s budgeting processes is in need of further reforms and that is why the National Assembly took the bold initiative to introduce the budget process bill that is expected to lay out, timelines that will guide the appropriation process from conception to passage.
â€œBut for this Bill to be passed, section (81) subsection (1) which gives the President power to prepare and lay before each House of the National Assembly at any time estimates of revenue and expenditure in the financial year must be amended.â€
The Speaker also charged House Committees to process all pending legislative measures before them and ensure expeditious consideration as they enter the twilight of their legislative mandate.
He said: â€œWe already have a record number of Bills, Resolutions and Public Petitions passed more than any other assembly before us and we can do even more in the remaining period of our tenure.â€