Nigeria News

Senate’s Retroactive Budget on Subsidy is Unconstitutional, Says CNPP

The  Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has described the Senate Report on the unremitted $49.8 billion crude oil sales revenue which recommended that President Goodluck Jonathan prepares and presents to the National Assembly, a supplementary budget to cover the sum of N90.693 billion for petrol subsidy for 2012 and the sum of N685.919 billion already expended as unconstitutional and less than transparent.

The group said such huge subsidy funds expended without appropriation by the National Assembly amounted to an impeachable offence.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, CNPP said it “had read from page to page and could not locate the section that mandated the Senate to make such unconstitutional and fraudulent recommendation.

“Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution as amended only stipulates that, “The president shall cause to be prepared and laid before each of the house of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the federation for the next following financial year.” Not years after and to cover fraud.

“On supplementary budget section 81(4) stipulates, ‘If the amount appropriated by the Appropriation Act for any purpose is insufficient, or a need has arises for expenditure for a purpose for which no amount has been appropriated by the Act; a supplementary estimate showing the sums required shall be laid before each House of the National Assembly and the heads of any such expenditure shall be included in a Supplementary Appropriation Bill.”

The group said it believed that the sanctity of the Appropriation Act must at all times be guarded jealously by the National Assembly for the intendment of the appropriation process was for transparency, hierarchy of needs measurement and prioritisation of items.

It said the Senate cannot abandon its core mandate of oversight functions as stipulated in Section 88 in an effort to protect a president whose metaphor is corruption.

“We are therefore outraged that the Senate in utter disregard of the rule of law has covertly issued a badly compromised report that even forgot that the Coordinator for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had acknowledged after the inter-agency and ministerial reconciliation that $12.8 billion was not remitted to the Federation Account and hence missing.

“Has our distinguished senators also easily forgotten that the subsidy on kerosene was removed by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory, when he discovered that it only benefits the oil cabal?  Therefore President Jonathan and his cohorts must account for the  $3.512 billion so-called kerosene subsidy fleeced off between January 2012 and July 2013?

“CNPP still contends that the Senate Report is spurious, jaundiced and compromised and consequently the $20 billion dollars is still missing given available records.

On the issue of removal of fuel subsidy, CNPP said  the Senate was also tepid as it came with half measures, as the Senate President, David Mark, canvassed.

“We want to appeal that we should not pit ourselves against public opinion. If subsidy has to be removed, there must be public enlightenment  and education so that facts would be made available to the people and then public opinion at the end of the day will count.

“We expected a statesmanlike speech not pedestrian stomach infrastructure speech from one of the longest serving senators in Nigeria, for we do not know what is wrong with building new refineries before the removal of subsidy or are we still waiting for Alhaji Dangote and the Chinese?
“It is painful that our dear distinguished senators and honourable members have converted the National Assembly into a trade centre, where only deals are hatched. When it suits them they will raise dust of missing funds, conduct public hearings, hype peoples hopes that they are fighting corruption, at the end of the day, they sweep the matter under the carpet.

“Otherwise, if the National Assembly has not degenerated into a trade centre and has concentrated in its core mandate, the material conditions like equitable revenue allocation formulae, devolution of powers, additional state for South-east and other sundry matters which gave birth to the National Conference, which poses great danger to 2015 general election, could have been resolved long time ago,” it said.

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