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Senate weighs options on Osinbajo’s comments over 2017 budget


Members of the Nigerian Senate at a plenary. PHOTO: TWITTER/ NIGERIAN SENATE

The Senate is considering whether or not to sue the presidency regarding its powers and control over budgets.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent comments that the National Assembly had no powers to inject projects into a budget bill as proposed by the President has attracted different reactions from the Senate as it concerns the right step to take.

While many advised the Senate leadership to insist that the President must implement the budget as signed into law strictly or face the consequences, others wanted the upper chamber to take the Presidency to court so that the controversy could be resolved by the judiciary.


Yet, some lawmakers are of the view that the Presidency should go to court if it had issues with the powers of the National Assembly over the budget.

The Guardian learnt that the divergent opinions expressed by the Senators, was a source of serious concern to its leadership.

A meeting of the Senate leadership would, therefore, be convened immediately after the Sallah holidays to decide on the right steps to take.

In two separate motions moved in both chambers shortly before the Sallah break, lawmakers had expressed dismay over Osinbajo’s comments and challenged him to take the matter to the Supreme Court, but Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara quickly stepped in and averted further discussion on the issue.

In an interview with The Guardian, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Rafiu Ibrahim, said that there was nothing wrong with the budget passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the Acting President.

Ibrahim, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, asserted that the leadership of the National Assembly had always bent over backwards to accommodate some reservations by the Presidency in the past did not mean that the legislature was unaware of its powers as provided in section 80 of the 1999 Constitution.

On whether the National Assembly would seek the interpretation of the constitution on the budget at the court, Ibrahim said: “That is not for us. We have the powers to pass the budget and that is what we have done. It is now left for the executive. If they want to seek clarification in court, they are free to do so.”

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