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Imo Assembly didn’t follow due process in passing 2021 budget, says IPAD

By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
24 December 2020   |   4:11 am
Imo People’s Action for Democracy (IPAD) has faulted the ‘quick passage’ of the 2021 appropriation bill by the 27-member Imo State House of Assembly.

Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma (sitting); Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku (5th right); House of Assembly Speaker, Paul Emeziem (5th left); with principal officers of the house and members of the State Executive Council, when the governor was signing the 2021 Budget into law, at the Sam Mbakwe Exco Chambers, Owerri…yesterday.

Imo People’s Action for Democracy (IPAD) has faulted the ‘quick passage’ of the 2021 appropriation bill by the 27-member Imo State House of Assembly.

The pro-democracy group, in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Marjorie Ezihe, and Secretary, Chibundu Uchegbu, argued that the bill did not go through the statutory due process before it was passed on Monday, after five days that Governor Hope Uzodimma presented it to the legislative house.

“Again, there was no opportunity for the Finance and Appropriation Committee to collate the reports of the committees and present them for adoption in the Committee of the Whole.

“The foregoing is an abdication of the constitutional powers of appropriation conferred on the House of Assembly under sections 120 and 121 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended,” IPAD stated.

According to the group, during its sitting on Wednesday December 17, 2020, Speaker of the House, Paul Emeziem directed that copies of the bill be made available to all members of the house and adjourned sitting till Monday, December 21, 2020. It added that on December 21, 2020, the house passed the bill.

“The implication of the foregoing is that within less than 24 hours, the budget estimate has been considered and passed. The House of Assembly did not set aside a day to read the budget for the first time let alone debating on its general principles and policies.

“At no point in time did the house dissolve into committees to consider on a Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) basis the estimates made by the executive,” the group stressed.

IPAD alleged deviation from the process, adding: “We are aware of the need for the budget to be passed and signed into law before the expiration of the year, to maintain the January to December budget calendar and earn benefits from development partners.

“However, the governor was duty-bound to present the budget early in September or October. This is the practice at the federal level and in some states such as Kaduna, Lagos, Anambra and Akwa Ibom.”