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President Buhari’s Letter, Causes Stir in the House of Representatives


The letter from President Muhammadu Buhari to the House of Representatives withdrawing the faulty details of the 2016 budget caused a stir in the House of Representatives, Tuesday.
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.
Immediately the Speaker read the President’s letter, 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.
While quoting Section 80(4) of the constitution and Order 91 of the House, he said the constitution said the budget must be submitted in a timely fashion and that the House Rule (84) permits Chairmen of committees to amend the budget in line with the needs and interests of Nigerians.
Ogor further argued that there is therefore no need for the president to write a letter for the amendment of the appropriation bill.
Quoting Rule 84 of the House, Ogor said: “Any committee to which the budget is commuted shall have the power to amend.
“The issue of amendment is the responsibility of committees, not a situation where an amendment is being proposed with all the attendance crisis.
“To avoid unnecessary complexity we should look at it at committee level and the chairmen of committees should do the amendment, Instead of having two documents.”
But the Speaker corrected Ogor saying the President is asking for a “correction” not “amendment” and that only the president has the right to do such.
“Communications from the President are not to be debated. You’re talking of amendment; there is nowhere in the letter that the president talked of amendment. The president talked of correction.
“What we’re saying is that there’s a difference between amendment and correction. If the president has said that, which I know he is the only person that can correct, we as a responsible parliament will work on the corrected version.
“The rule 84 referred to is because it’s a bill. It falls within our purview to make laws, to make amendments but does not relate to corrections.”
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.
But Dogara urged Okorie to take another look at the order he cited. “Look at the opening, it states: “Unless the House otherwise directs.”
That put paid to further furore.

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