MDAs’ spendings on hold as budget awaits Yar’Adua’s assent
In the meantime, the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) has pointed out that Nigerians are angry over the Federal Government’s failed promise to deliver 6,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity by December 2009, to ameliorate the nation’s poor power supply.
The PPA demanded apology from the Federal Government to the people over the failed promise.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly yesterday, the chairman of Business and Rules Committee, Ita Enang, said though the clause had been included in the supplementary appropriation waiting for the president’s assent, it could not be enforced until he signs the budget. The lawmaker said in the same vein, the 2009 budget would “stand,” meaning that all unspent funds for the year would have to be returned to the treasury.
“Until the supplementary budget becomes a law, the 2009 budget stands. All monies allocated in the 2009 budget that were not spent will have to be returned to the treasury because that is what the 2009 Appropriation says”, he remarked.
On what would happen if Yar’Adua did not sign the budget in the 30 days allowed by the 1999 Constitution, Enang said it was early in the day to begin to think of such a scenario but where it had been confirmed that the president withheld his assent, the House would resort to the provision of the constitution.
“You cannot start speculating when the time has not come. If the need arises and if the budget is not signed and we have cause to believe that assent has been withheld, it is only then that we will begin to look at the provision of the constitution on that matter,” he stated.
The chairman disclosed that this session of the House has passed about 102 bills out of the 307 introduced while 66 motions were passed and 60 petitions treated.
Also, the House has lauded the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ogbonna Onovo, over what it described as commendable proposal to reform the Police.
The House Committee on Police Affairs gave the commendation yesterday when the IGP appeared for budget defence.
Onovo told the members that the time had come to make a difference in policing the country, noting that the Force had come under attack for some time. “This time, we will make a difference. It is a sacred obligation. By this time next year, the results will be obvious. We will ensure that when contractors are given anything to do, they not only do it but do it well,” he said.
The IGP said the Force would acquire materials needed for effective policing and improve on its performance and called on the committee to assist by way of appropriation.
The Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Usman Bayero Nafada, as well as the chairman of the committee, Abdul Ningi and other members who spoke, said the IGP came up with a budget proposal that if passed, would make impact on policing in the country. They particularly lauded the training programme and crime control strategies which the police chief presented to them.
Nafada, however, enjoined the Police to work towards setting up a degree – awarding institution like the Nigerian Defence Academy.
The PPA’s national Chairman, Mr. Larry Esin, spoke on the electricity crisis against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s admission that it would not be able to achieve the 6,000 mw feat by the end of this month, contrary to its promise, citing gas problem as one of the militating factors.
Esin said it was even more unfortunate that the government failed the people by not being able to generate the 6,000 mw, which, according to him, is a far cry from the 25,000 mw the nation reportedly needs to stabilize its electricity requirements, “after government had spent billions of Nigerians’ hard-earned money on the project”.
The PPA boss, in a statement yesterday, blamed the failed promise on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led government’s lack of vision for Nigeria. He noted that any serious government ought to have “factored all problems, foreseeable and not foreseeable, before making the projection to deliver 6,000 mw of electricity by December, 2009.
“It is unfortunate that almost three years after this administration came into office, it is unable to address one of the fundamental problems of Nigerians, that is, electricity, not to talk of the six other items on its much touted Seven-point Agenda, a mantra that is fast becoming a mirage”, he said.
Esin called for the fast-tracking of the full deregulation of the power sector as one of the ways to tackle the nation’s deep-seated electricity problem.
According to him, the current experience has shown that government cannot single-handedly meet Nigeria’s electricity needs.
The problem, the PPA chairman added, has also made the call for true and fiscal federalism imperative so that each of the nation’s component parts can arrange its own power requirements without let or hindrance.