By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA-MEMBERS of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, argued over a letter sent by President Muhammadu Buhari indicating corrections in the 2016 budget.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara while reading the letter said the president said corrections have been made to the details of the budget as presented on December 22.
Bickering however started at about 11.25am immediately the speaker read the president’s letter when the Minority Leader of the House Rep Leo Ogor, PDP, Isoko Federal constituency cited Sections 81 and 84 of the constitution, which he said do not give the president powers to amend budget, adding that such powers lie with the legislature.
Ogor immediately called on the House to disregard Buhari’s letter.
Dogara apparently defending the president said there was no where in the letter that Buhari said the budget was amended, adding that it is only the president that has powers to make corrections to the budget if he observes any error.
The PDP lawmakers started chanting “no, no!” preventing Dogara from making his point for some minutes.
But the speaker drove home his point as he hinged his argument on the fact that there was no where the president mentioned the word amendment rather he used the word correction “which the president alone can correct,” the speaker added.
Also, Rep Linus Okorie, PDP, Ebonyi raised a point of order that the speaker did not follow the order of House procedure as he chose to read petitions before the House when in actual practice the president’s letter ought to have been read first.
Again, Dogara simply told Okorie that the House which read from the introductory states that unless the House otherwise direct and an applause from members followed immediately.
The speaker in self defence told the House that immediately he arrived the House chambers, the first thing he did was to explain to the entire House that he was going to take petitions first before the letters he had with him.
The president’s letter read in part: It will be recalled that on Tuesday, 22 December, 2015, I presented my 2016 budget proposals to the joint sitting of the National Assembly.
“I submitted a draft bill accompanied by a schedule of details. At the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced, we would have had to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule. That has since been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted.
“The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd December, and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.
“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures”.