We will consider emergency powers on its merit, says Doguwa
The Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Alhassan Ado Doguwa in this interview with ADAMU ABUH spoke on the actions the lawmakers will take, to compliment the executive in salvaging the economy.
What is likely to be the main issue lawmakers will preoccupy themselves with, on resumption from vacation?
FOR me, it is a continuous process, and you know the House, as an institution would always continue from where it stopped. So, I want to assure that when we resume on Tuesday, the 20th of this month, the House would pay attention more to our legislative duties. We left behind over 126 bills and laws under consideration at various levels of legislation.
And I want to believe the House would pay more attention to those bills, in relation to their various levels of legislative consideration. But there could still be some special issues that could be considered. They would not be more than the idea of our normal oversight functions. The House would pay very serious attention to normal oversight functions; because it has been long Nigerians are waiting for results from the budget of 2016. As we speak, the economy is nearly stagnant and there is outcry out there that we feel it is our constitutional responsibilities to intervene at this level.
Then secondly, another issue that would be of priority is what the executive may likely come up with. For instance, I understand before we went on break, there were issues that had to do with granting Mr. President some emergency powers, to address some economic and security problems. This could also form part of priority issues to be attended to. If the President feels like coming to the House or the National Assembly with request to be given emergency powers that would address some of our problems, then certainly the National Assembly would not be insensitive to that call. We would look at it on its merits and we would look at it in the light of the interest of Nigerians, and all things being equal, we would always act in accordance with what we think would be in the best interest of our people.
Do you see the possibility of the 2016 budget being implemented fully, considering the economic challenges in the polity?
For me, I don’t think there could be any challenge that would militate against the implementation of the budget. So far, the budget itself was predicated on a lot of factors. There is a section of the budget that was predicated on foreign loan and borrowing. We also have a chunk of it that was predicated on unrealistic oil revenue and oil price in the world market, which to me put together is like they are not materialising. But whatever the case might be, government will have to find the means of financing the budget, because that is the only way that you can really put the economy back to shape.
We may also have to look at the issue of those funds that were recovered. I mean looted money. The legislature in a democracy is an all-powerful organ of government. We must have to create an opportunity or an avenue whereby we would empower the executive arm of government, to put to use this so-called recovered money. A lot of money is being recovered, a lot of funds are being collected from looters and we don’t have to continue to sit on so much resource, in the name of recovered money when our economy is shambles.
So, the National Assembly would look at the possibility of creating a legitimate platform for the government, to begin to use these funds, to inject money into the economy, and to also service some of these capital intervention projects, and other issues that should be addressed by the government. What I am trying to say in essence is that we would look at the possibility of empowering the government, to now utilize these recovered funds.
Do you think the executive arm has done enough, to address the economic situation in the country?
Of course, I won’t say they have done so well, but they need to do much more. So far, they have done as good as they could, but I feel a lot has to be done again to rejuvenate our economy, because if you look at the way things are going, certainly there is need for us to reconsolidate our economic policies. There is also the need to make sure that the economic policies are not only vibrant, but become responsive and sensitive to the expectations of the people.
Every policy that you may think of, if it does not reflect the expectations on ground, then certainly you would be really making a mistake. So, I will like to say in this regard that the government is doing its best, but more has to be done to really address this economic recession. We need to have a special economic team and we also need to come up with a well thought-out economic policies and we must have to abide by them.
Up till now, the government has not spelt out a clear-cut economic direction. If there is any policy one cannot take away from this government, is its commitment to fight corruption. But after fighting corruption or when you are fighting corruption what other things are you doing, to really put the economy back to shape? All these things have not been addressed.
There are fears that granting emergency powers to the president could breed dictatorship and abuse of powers?
Whatever that could be, the fact remains that we must accept the fact that the economy is in recession. Apart from that, we still have political and regional crises because some Nigerians are even talking of restructuring the Nigerian nation. So, we have a lot of issues on the table. So, what I want to say is that as long as the powers requested by Mr. President are powers that if granted to him would bring about the reorganisation of the Nigerian economy, as long as those powers are powers that we think would help Mr. President to really normalise the Nigerian economy and the multifaceted problems in the country, then we would have no regret granting those emergency powers.
Remember, whatever emergency powers we are likely going to give Mr. President, we would always have a caveat. We would not give Mr. President emergency powers to the extent that we would mortgage our own constitutional powers. We would give him such powers in a manner and in a way that we can always call him to order.
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