•Commence action against Buhari now, PDP charges N’Assembly
•Unlike PDP, our $1bn Boko Haram Fund not meant for 2019 Polls —APC
By Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—The House of Representatives said, yesterday, that there would be trouble if President Muhammadu Buhari approves any money for arms procurement without approval by the National Assembly.
Chairman, House Committee on Army, Rimande Shawulu, who stated this yesterday, said the President lacks the constitutional powers to approve money for arms procurement without the mandate of the legislature, insisting that any such violation was bound to brew trouble between him and the National Assembly.
The Senate had on Wednesday, taken a swipe at the Presidency, saying the President lacks the powers to give approval for such money without approval from the legislature.
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Ben Murray-Bruce, had said: “It has not been approved, it is simply the choice of words. The Presidency or the executive cannot spend a single kobo on such a mission unless the National Assembly approves that.
“It is only when the Senate or National Assembly approves that the executive can go ahead to spend such money. The executive can only recommend and not to approve.”
This is even as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday tasked the National Assembly to commence appropriate constitutional legislative actions against President Buhari for gross misconduct over the matter.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday alleged that unlike the PDP, the fund is not meant to finance 2019 polls.
There’ll be trouble…
Shawulu, who represents Donga/Ussa/Takum/Special Area Constituency of Taraba State, said there would be serious trouble, if any money goes out for such purpose without approval from the legislature.
He spoke to reporters in Abuja, on the sidelines of the Second Procurement Awareness Seminar, organised by the Directorate of Procurement, Army Headquarters.
He said: “I can inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military worth $1 billion, Dan-Ali was quoted to have said while responding to questions from newsmen on Wednesday at the State House.
“The fact of the matter is that there are processes for money coming into the federation account and for the money being used. And the point we must note too is that a lot of times, pronouncements are policy statements and the policy statements are not just executed, it’s not as if, when the announcement was made, the federation account was debited. No, it doesn’t happen that way.
“When the President says he’s going to spend money, there’s a process that is followed before the money is spent. So, I want you to understand that, it’s not as if money has gone out.
“However, if money has gone out without parliamentary approval, that’s is a problem, it’s a very serious problem if money went out without parliamentary approval.”
In his opening remarks on the occasion, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, said there was no gainsaying the fact that the operational capability of the Nigerian Army today depends on the availability of requisite hardware, highly trained personnel and other essential resources.
According to him, in the past few years, the Nigerian Army “has no doubt taken robust steps and put in place policies in enhancing its procurement plans and processes, with a view to meeting its constitutional roles.
Buratai said the theme for this year’s seminar” Optimizing the Operational Capabilities of the Nigerian Army through an Effective Procurement System”, was quite unique and significant, especially in view of the acute need to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Army towards meeting the present growing security challenges.
“The security challenges facing our dear country manifest in the forms of terrorism, insurgency, separatist movements and banditry, among others,” he noted.
He charged participants to reflect on the theme, bearing in mind the opportunities to enhance the Nigerian Army’s capabilities, building upon ongoing successes in view of operational commitments and improving procurement methods as well as processes in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”
“This seminar, therefore, provides a veritable platform for us to familiarize and educate ourselves sufficiently on the procurement matters that would enable the Nigerian Army compete successfully in the opportunities that arise from the implementation of the national budget, Buratai added.
Director of Procurement, Army Headquarters, Brigadier General ET Essien, in his welcome address, said the seminar was convened in line with the Nigerian Army training directive 2018.
The objective of the seminar, he explained, was to develop the capacity of the Nigerian Army personnel on procurement procedures in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, PPA 2007.
PDP tasks NASS
Meanwhile, reacting to the development yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, tasked the National Assembly to commence appropriate constitutional legislative actions against President Buhari for alleged gross misconduct.
The party also called on Nigerians to reject and resist the renewed attempt by the Presidency to help itself with the huge sums of money, alleging that the $1 billion was meant to finance President Buhari’s interests in the APC national convention and 2019 Presidential campaign.
In a statement by its image maker, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said its investigations revealed that the Presidency deliberately avoided the National Assembly to avoid legislative scrutiny and accountability, thus paving way for the diversion of the fund “for selfish partisan purposes.”
The statement read: “It is a notorious fact that the Presidency and the APC have been plotting to loot this $I billion from our heavily depleted Excess Crude Account, ECA), since last year, using the guise of fight against insurgency.
“This is the same Buhari administration that has been boasting of having technically defeated the insurgents. This is also an administration that is not known to have exhausted subsisting budgetary allocations for defence.
“Nigerians are thoroughly disappointed that President Buhari; the same African Union (AU) ‘anti-corruption champion’, who swore to be above board and to protect the constitution and our laws, will allow himself to fall for the temptation of resorting to ways and means which are totally at variance with the laws and all democratic tenets.
“Democracy thrives on constitutional processes of separation of powers, due diligence and transparency and not on totalitarian tendencies.
“We urge the National Assembly to look into the constitution and impose appropriate legislative instruments against Mr. President, if any part of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been breached by this unilateral decision.”
The party also faulted government’s efforts at taming insurgency, saying there was more to it than the public was being made to believe.
“It has since come to light that the Buhari administration is using the fight against insurgency as a conduit to siphon funds, as evidenced in the alleged looting of the N18 billion Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, funds.”
Unlike PDP, our $1bn Boko Haram Fund not meant for 2019 Polls —APC
Reacting, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, issued a sharp rebuke of the PDP over allegations by the latter that the presidential approval of $1 billion to fight insurgency is a ploy to use public resources to prosecute the 2019 general elections for the former.
Spokesman of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who reacted to the allegation in a text message to Vanguard said; “There is no such plan. But it is easy for PDP to make this kind of wild allegation because they know that was how they got the money to fund their elections in 2015. It is what they were adept at doing; diverting money meant for security to fund their party.”