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2014 Budget: APC Lawmakers Stall Debate

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The debate on the 2014 Appropriation Bill was stalled by members of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The leadership of APC had ordered its members to block all legislative bills particularly the budget until the impunity in Rivers state is taken care of

The development appeared to be the first phase of the lawmakers’ compliance with the directive of the national leadership of their party to “block” all Executive bills, particularly the budget.

On Tuesday, APC leadership had in a meeting with the party members in Abuja, restated its directive to them to ensure that the Appropriation bill was not passed.

Events appeared to be progressing normally until the speaker, Aminu Tambuwal requested that the majority leader, Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola should lead the debate on the general principles of the N4.6tn budget.

She was  barely done when Emmanuel Ejime, an APC member from Benue State raised a point of order strictly on grounds of law.

He claimed that the budget estimates breached Section 21 (I,II,III) of the Fiscal Responsibly Act, 2007.

He claims the Act provides that the government corporations listed under Section 21 “shall not later than six months from the commencement of this Act, submit the estimates of expenditure for the next three years” to the National Assembly.

Mr Jime revealed that the law requires the Minister of Finance to attach the estimates of the corporations to the national budget presented to the National Assembly.

He continued his argument saying while saying he had gone through the budget estimates and found out that the estimates of the corporations were not attached as required by law but only had an abridged versions of the budgets of the corporations

He went on and on as his argument got deeper.

“The pattern of presenting this budget has breached our laws; the House should not allow itself to do the wrong thing because we want to satisfy the comfort of the moment”, Jime revealed.

Aggrieved PDP members had this point shouted him to sit down.

“Point of order”, “point of order, Mr. Speaker”, Mr. Nedo Karibi from Bayelsa State screamed as some other PDP members joined him as they asked Jime to sit down.

The Speaker, Tambuwal however made it clear that in compliance with the rules of the House, a member speaking on a point of order must finish his remarks before another point of order could be taken.

The Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. John Enoh of the PDP (Cross Rivers) responded however

“I disagree with the indication that the budget is in breach of any law whatsoever.”

“The standing Committee on Banking and Currency for example, will call the CBN to ask questions on all issues while looking at their budget”, he stated.

While the Cross Rivers state lawmaker spoke, APC lawmakers shouted him down wit chants of , “no”, “no”; “it is not true.”

Tambuwal revealed he would set up a six-man advisory committee to examine the issues raised by Jime and Enoh. The committee is expected to give the house a feedback within 24 hours.

The Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal continuously advised the aggrieved lawmakers to exercise decorum.

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