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Executive: National Assembly may clash over emergency powers bill

The National Assembly is on a collision course with the Executive over the Presidency’s quest for emergency powers on the economy. The Executive wants additional powers to act independently on budgetary allocations for projects that require immediate attention and were not previously captured.

Some lawmakers, however, disagree, saying the National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to oversee every stage of spending in the budget. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, made this position known in Abuja at the Gallery Colloquium organised by Orderpaper.com, titled, “Budget as a critical tool for effective executive, legislative relations.”

He said there was no need for rancour between the executive and the National Assembly on budget issues and other matters of state, if laid down rules were followed. He added that both arms of government were designed by law to work together and move the country forward.

Dogara explained that a review of how annual budgets or appropriation bills have been prepared and executed since 1999 revealed needless rivalries between the two arms, a situation he described as counter-productive. The speaker, who recommended an urgent reform of budgetary laws, said government needed to overhaul the entire legal framework on budget, to ensure early submission of appropriation documents to the National Assembly before the commencement of a new financial year.

He said this would facilitate a timely passage of budgets, as opposed to merely seeking emergency powers to tackle budgetary bottlenecks. He stressed the need for clear-cut development plan with broad national consensus, to show how set targets were to be achieved, as well as extensive consultation between the executive and legislature before and during the preparation of the budget.

But in his remarks, Budget and National Planning Minister, Udo Udoma, urged Assembly members to see themselves as partners in progress with the Executive and not the other way round.

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