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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Subject: Senate Retroactive Supplementary Recommendation: Unconstitutional

PRESS STATEMENT

The Senate Report on the missing $49.8 billion Crude Oil Sales Revenue that recommended, 'that President Goodluck Jonathan should prepare and present to the National Assembly, a supplementary budget to cover the sum of N90.693 billion for PMS subsidy for 2012 and the sum of N685.919 billion for kerosene subsidy expended without appropriation by the National Assembly', is unconstitutional, less than transparent as the expenditure of any amount without appropriation is an impeachable offense.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) had read from page to page and could not locate the section that mandated the Senate to make such unconstitutional and fraudulent recommendation; for Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended only stipulates in Section 81 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'.
It is our candid opinion 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 is for transparency, hierarchy of needs measurement and prioritization of items. Accordingly, 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 Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, 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 forgot that the subsidy on kerosene was removed by President Umaru Musa Yaradua of blessed memory, when he discovered that it only benefits the oil cabal? Therefore President Jonathan and 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 the Senate was also tepid as it came with half measures, as the Senate President, David Mark canvassed, 'On the issue of subsidy, I 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 Center, 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 Center 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 elections, could have been resolved long time ago.
Mr Osita Okechukwu
National Publicity Secretary
CNPP

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