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PDP Rep Moves To Stop Buhari From Giving Bailout To States To Pay Workers

Yakubu Dogara
Yakubu Dogara

A member of the House of Representatives, Iduma Enwo Igariwey, (Peoples Democratic Party, Ebonyi) has made a move at the Federal High Court, Abuja to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from giving out the sum of N413.7 billion to states to pay arrears of salary to government workers.

Igariwey is asking the court to declare Buhari’s approval of the bailout “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and null and void.”

He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction to restrain Buhari from further allocation, distribution, and disbursement of public revenue from Nigeria’s distributable pool account to federal, state and local government without the prescription of the National Assembly.

The lawmaker, representing Afikpo North and South, joined the Attorney-General of the Federation, Ministry of Finance, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Accountant-General of the Federation and Auditor-General of the Federation in the suit.

Addressing newsmen shortly after returning from court, Igariwey declared that his suit had no political undertones. Instead, he said, it was informed by the need to defend the constitutional provision for separation of powers.

At least 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states owe their workers arrears of salaries. Some had not paid workers for as much as seven months.

Although he sympathized with the plight of such workers, Igariwey said the President had no power to unilaterally disburse money without the approval of the National Assembly.

According to him, the power of appropriation rests squarely with the National Assembly, and the federal government cannot appropriate public funds without recourse to the National Assembly.

“To do so will be for the Federal Government to act in a cavalier or perfunctory manner, and I believe that that is not what the drafters of the Constitution intended when the Constitution of this country was predicated on the separation of powers.

“Section four of our Constitution clearly vests the power of appropriation on the National Assembly. Section five vests the Executive with its own powers and Section six vests the Judiciary with its own powers. So, there is a clear separation of powers,” he said.

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Igariwey submitted that Section 160 of the Nigerian Constitution makes it mandatory for the National Assembly to be involved in any form of revenue distribution in the country; the decision of government on the recent bailout, he said, amounted to boycotting the parliament and alienating it in the scheme of things in a constitutional democracy.

“I am doing this because I feel that this is a constitutional democracy. If you allow this kind of thing, no matter the good intention of the Federal Government, the country’s democracy will be threatened,” Igariwey said.

Asked if he took into consideration the possible reaction of Nigerians on the suit, he said, “This is a country of laws. Everything the government does ought to emanate from the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. Every step the government intends to take must be backed up by the Constitution.

“Any day we set ourselves away from the Constitution, we will be inviting anarchy. What I am saying is that you cannot sacrifice constitutionalism on the altar of political expediency.

“The Constitution does not say that our president should be a Father Christmas. Our President is a democratically elected president who swore to abide by the dictates of the Constitution.

“We did not elect an Ayatollah or a monarch who would sit in his office and do good to all manner of men the way he or she desires. Every act of the President, the legislature or the judiciary must emanate from this Constitution and other statutes and legal instruments.

“No matter how well-intentioned the action of government may be, the moment it is not backed up by the Constitution it is a nullity.” [myad]

 

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