•It’ll help us consolidate on our successes –Buratai
Molly Kilete; Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the National Assembly to scrutinise carefully, President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of disbursement of $1 billion to purchase security equipment.
The PDP said the approval, without the approval of the federal Legislature, could pave way for the alleged diversion of the fund to finance the president’s interests in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)’s national convention and 2019 elections campaign.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party said its investigation revealed that the National Assembly was not taken along in approving the $1 billion for arms purchase.
“Democracy thrives on constitutional processes of separation of powers, due diligence and transparency and not on totalitarian tendencies. PDP believes the president, as a leader, reasonably ought to have known that he is in no way above the law.
“We, therefore, 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.
“We further urge the National Assembly to scrutinise the constitution and other statute books for the purposes of strengthening the laws guiding the application of funds in our country,” the party stated.
But, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has maintained that the $1billion is needed to consolidate on the success of the military against Boko Haram.
Buratai told newsmen, on the sidelines of a public procurement conference, yesterday, that the fresh funds would help the country’s Armed Forces push back insurgency, banditry, separatist movements, among others, in the country.
“If we get money, it means we will deploy them further to consolidate on what we have further achieved. Our capability will be increased; it means consolidating on other challenges…” said Buratai.
Earlier, Chairman of the House Committee on Army, Rimande Shawulu, warned on the grave consequences which await non-confirmation of the expenditure by the National Assembly.
Shawulu told newsmen that president Buhari lacks the constitutional power to approve money for arms procurement without the mandate of the legislature and warned that any such move could generate more trouble between the Presidency and the National Assembly.
“The fact of the matter is that there are processes for money coming into the Federation Account and for the money being used.
“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 is a problem, it’s a very serious problem if money went out without parliamentary approval.”