Senator Dino Melaye has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of trying to whip up sentiments against the National Assembly again by alleging that the 2018 budget was padded.
The Senator argued that what the President is authorised to do, constitutionally, is to present the National Assembly with a bill. He maintained that “a bill is a work in progress and not the finished work.”
Melaye was of the view that the reason the Constitution directs the Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly is that it expects the legislature to vet the fiscal document and make inputs into such a Bill before passing it into an Appropriation Act.
“The National Assembly is not just expected to rubber stamp whatever Bill the President presents. If this was the norm, then, there would have been no need for the Constitution to direct that the Bill be submitted to the National Assembly in the first place,” Melaye contended.
“Mr. President should, therefore, refrain from playing to the gallery and milking the naivety of the masses on the issue,” the senator cautioned.
Melaye remarked that in any event, the president reserves the prerogative of refusing to append his signature to the Bill passed if it meets with his displeasure; adding that he is also free to return the Bill to the National Assembly unsigned with a note indicating his areas of disaffection.
“Therefore Mr. President should halt his chicanery and smear campaign of the National Assembly,” Melaye declared.
The senator further protested: “I also ask, in the last three years of this administration: What has been the percentage of implementation of capital budget?
“The powers and authority of the National Assembly cannot be eroded by the presidency.” He admonished that, “the National Assembly is not a department of the Presidency.’
President Muhammadu Buhari, singing the 2018 budget into law on Wednesday had accused the National Assembly of unilaterally increasing the budget figure without consultation with the executive.