The presidency on Monday cleared the air on the controversy trailing President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of $1 billion to Nigerian security agencies for the purchase of equipment without National Assembly’s authorization.
Recall that the initial announcement of the approval generated heated arguments among Nigerians as many posited that approval for such fund should be exercised by the National Assembly and not the president.
First to offer clarification on the approval was Femi Adesina, who said the president will soon communicate to the National Assembly on the issue.
In another clarification, the President’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari’s approval is not final as it signifies only a stage approval while the process is still ongoing.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on Saturday said senators are angry about President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to properly communicate his administration’s plan to spend $1 billion on arms procurement.
In reaction to this, the presidency on Monday released a statement to again state that Buhari would necessarily seek the National Assembly’s approval before accessing the fund.
The statement signed by Ita Enang, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters-Senate, gave the assurance that Mr. Buhari will abide by the provision of the constitution.
The full statement reads:
Security Fund Not Spent Without Appropriation
In response to several issues raised about Security Fund sourced for at source from Excess Crude Account to combat security challenges in the country and the several misreading’s attending same, May l state as follows:
- That the said sum has not and cannot be approved for spending by Mr. President.
- That in accordance with best practices, Mr. President, having received approval of sum from National Economic Council made up of all the governors, now had a meeting with the Minister of Defence, Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, among others to collate the need of each of the Services and the money available for appropriation
- That Mr. President and the meeting having collated the need of each service and the amount involved may now present same to the Federal Executive Council for detailed consideration, or in exercise of presidential powers may communicate same to the National Assembly for appropriation.
- That this may be done as usual upon Mr. President consulting prior with the Leadership of the National Assembly through the whole body of principal officers or the presiding officers of each chambers only, before originating the communication to the National Assembly
- That as at now, the process of approving the money for use is inchoate and still undergoing Executive standard operating procedure before laying same before the National Assembly for appropriation.
- That the processes now being worked on is to fast-track this procedures so that it may be forwarded to the National Assembly while it is still considering the 2018 Appropriation Bill (Budget) for incorporation as Mr. President’s supplementary request under the 2018 Budget, or if completed, after the 2018 Budget, it may be forwarded as supplementary Appropriation Bill.
- That succinctly stated, Mr. President has not approved the sum for any release of this procurement or application howsoever
In any case, before any Sum is released from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, there must be
- Appropriation Act
- Vote of Charge
- Warrant which is legally predicated on appropriation authorization Sub-head under the Act
That the Executive is conscious of the provisions of the Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution which states:
“(3) No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.
(4) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly
- We are also conscious of the provision of Sections 4 and 5 of the 2017 Appropriation Act (relating to Excess crude Account) and would not take any action in breach thereof.
- Just as the Legislature in processing legislation starts with conceptualizing, drafting, scrutiny of the draft, gazetting, First reading, 2nd reading, committal to appropriate committee, public hearing, consideration of the Report by Committee of the whole or supply, passage and 3rd reading in plenary, so also does the Executive have and maintain standard operating procedure, or due process or due diligence in all actions. And at this stage, the matter is ongoing these processes.
Therefore, the matter of the security fund is still undergoing standard processes for laying before the National Assembly for appropriation.
- In summary, ladies and gentlemen, the said Sum can only be spent upon, and in the manner as shall be approved by the National Assembly, and Assented to in Appropriation Act or supplementary Appropriation Act.
Meanwhile, the President on Monday said the John Odigie-Oyegun led National Executive Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) must resign according to the APC constitution in other to seek re-election.
Buhari said the current executives of the party at all levels are free to re-contest their positions, saying though, he was unsure of the “practicality of present serving officers’ ability” to meet the conditions prescribed for their re-election.
Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before election.
He, therefore, advised party chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and other party executives to resign if they want to contest again.
Speaking at the party’s National Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Monday, Buhari said, “I also believe that the current executives should be free to vie for elective positions in the party if they so wish, as permitted by our Party constitution.
“However, considering the provision of Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution, which requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before election, I am not sure of the practicality of present serving officers’ ability to meet this condition.
“Accordingly, the party may consider granting waivers to party executives at all levels so that they are not disenfranchised from participating in the elections should they wish to do so, provided this does not violate our rules.
“Necessary waiver(s) should also be extended to executives at the Ward level whose tenures may have elapsed, and indeed to anyone knocking at our doors from other political parties.
“This is in the spirit of the Right to Freedom of Association guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)”
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