Members of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives on Tuesday stalled debate on the 2014 budget estimates, in what analysts described as the first phase of the lawmakers’ compliance with the directive of the national leadership of the party.
The party had asked its lawmakers to “block” all executive proposals before the National Assembly, particularly the budget.
A rowdy session was also prevented from degenerating further by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who continuously doused tension by advising angry lawmakers to exercise decorum.
The session had progressed normally until Tambuwal asked the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, to lead the debate on the general principles of the N4.6tr budget.
But she had hardly rounded off when an APC member from Benue State, Emmanuel Jime, raised a Point of Order strictly on grounds of law.
Jime noted that the budget estimates, as presented before the House, breached Section 21 (I,II,III) of the Fiscal Responsibly Act, 2007.
According to Jime, a lawyer, the Act provides that the government corporations listed under Section 21 ”shall not later than six months from the commencement of this Act, submit the estimates of expenditure for the next three years” to the National Assembly.
He also stated that the law required the Minister of Finance to ” cause” and attach the estimates of the corporations to the national budget presented to the National Assembly.
Jime named the listed corporations as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Port Authority and “21 other agencies of government.”
The lawmaker argued that, having gone through the budget estimates, he found out that the estimates of the corporation were not attached as required by law.
As Jime resumed his seat, Tambuwal called on the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, John Enoh, to respond.
Enoh, a Peoples Democratic Party member from Cross River State disagreed that the “budget is in breach of any law whatsoever.”
But, as he spoke, APC lawmakers booed him, some shouting, “no”, “no”; “it is not true.”
Tambuwal quickly intervened and ruled that to avoid the matter dragging for long, he would set up a six-man advisory committee to examine the issue raised by Jime and Enoh’s response.
The committee was directed to report back to the House “within 24 hours.