Uproar in House of Reps over Buhari’s letter on amendment of 2016 budget

Posted by News Express | 19 January 2016 | 2,345 times

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A mild drama ensued on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday when some members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded that a letter written by President Muhammadu Buhari on corrections made to the 2016 budget proposal be disregarded.

Trouble started after Speaker Yakubu Dogara read Buhari’s letter on the subject.

In the letter, President Buhari wrote: “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.”

Immediately after Dogara finished reading the letter, minority Leader Leo Ogor, who led the protest, came under constitutional point of order citing Section 81 and several provisions of the House Rules. Ogor said based on constitutional provisions, the powers to amend any budget lie with the parliament but that based on Buhari's letter, it appeared the president wanted to usurp their powers. He therefore advised that the House should set aside Buhari’s letter. But Dogara said based on the content of Buhari’s letter, there was no place that the president said he was amending the budget.

“What I’m saying is that there’s a technical difference between amendment and correction. If the president had written to say there are mistakes, which by law he’s the only person to correct, there’s no problem with that. There’s nobody that can cure that mistake than the president himself,” Dogara said.

However, PDP lawmakers on the floor did not allow Dogara to make his point clearly as they kept interrupting him with “no, no, no!”

It took some time before Dogara calmed them down and continued with his comments. Another PDP lawmaker Rep Linus Okorie came under another point of order, saying based on the way Dogara read the letter, it was against their rules, but the Dogara replied that the rules say “unless the House otherwise directs.” (Daily Trust)

•Photo shows Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Source: News Express

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