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Buhari admits errors in 2016 budget proposal, as PDP, APC Reps trade words over proposed amendment

Buhari

Legislative activities on the floor of the House of Representatives were disrupted for about 20 minutes Tuesday, as leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) urged the House to disregard the proposed amendment of the 2016 budget proposal initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had in a letter dated January 15, 2016, addressed to speaker, Yakubu Dogara, acknowledged that the “copy containing the corrections submitted last week,” had led to some confusion.

While reading the President’s letter, Dogara disclosed that necessary corrections had been effected in the details of the budget proposal presented on Tuesday, December 22, 2015.

Leo Ogor (PDP – Delta), who raised a constitutional point of order citing Sections 81 and 84 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), arguing that the provisions of the law did not give the President powers to amend budget, as such powers lie with the legislature. He consequently called on the House to disregard Buhari’s letter.

While reacting to the minority leader’s submission, Dogara argued that President Buhari did not reflect that the budget was amended, adding that the President had the powers to make corrections to the budget if he observed any error.

Dogara’s explanation however drew the ire of PDP lawmakers, who started chanting “no, no, no!”

One of the opposition lawmaker, Linus Okorie (PDP – Ebonyi), raised another point of order, noting that the speaker did not follow the order of House procedure as he chose to read petitions before the House when in actual practice the President’s letter ought to had been read first.

Ruling on Okorie’s point of order, Dogara explained that the House Rules in the introductory notes state that unless the House otherwise direct.

He explained that he actually forgot the letter in the office; hence he allowed petitions to be read first before the letter would be brought to him.

The letter read: “I submitted a draft bill accompanied by a schedule of details. At the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced, we would have had to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule. That has since been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted.

“The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.

“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures,” Buhari said in the letter.