Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi-West at the National Assembly, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of bringing sentiments into the alterations of the National Assembly to the 2018 budget.
According to Melaye, the National Assembly is not a department of the Presidency, hence it should be allowed to do its job.
After several months of delay, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2018 budget into law on Wednesday but he didn't hide his displeasure with the insertion of 6,043 projects, resulting in an increase in the budget by N14.5 billion, by the legislature.
However, in his reaction to the Buhari’s statement, Melaye said the President was bringing up “sentiments against the National Assembly”.
He defended the action of the National Assembly, saying that it is the duty of the lawmakers to vet and make inputs and that the assembly cannot just “rubber stamp” any bill sent by the executive.
“What the President is authorised to do constitutionally is to present the National Assembly with a bill; a bill is a work-in-progress and not the finished work,” Melaye said.
“The reason the Constitution directs the bill to be submitted to the National Assembly is that it expects the National Assembly to vet it and make inputs before passing it in readiness for appropriation act.
“The National Assembly is not expected to rubber-stamp whatever bill the President presents. If this was the norm, there would have been no need for the Constitution to direct that the bill should be submitted to the National Assembly in the first place.
“The powers and authority of the National Assembly cannot be eroded by the Presidency. The National Assembly is not a department of the Presidency. Mr. President should therefore refrain from playing to the gallery and milking the naivety of the masses on the issue.
“In any event, he reserves the prerogative of refusing to append his signature to the bill passed if it meets with his displeasure. He is also free to return the bill to the National Assembly unsigned with a note indicating his areas of disaffection.
“I also ask, in the last three years of this administration: What has been the percentage of implementation of capital budget? Therefore Mr. President should halt his chicanery and smear campaign of the national assembly.”