•Don’t politicise security expenditure –Garba Shehu
•Presidency must follow due process –Reps
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Job Osazuwa
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the National Assembly to sanction President Muhammadu Buhari, for spending $496.3 millon to purchase military aircraft from the United States of America (USA) without its approval.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the president violated his oath of office by spending the money from the Excess Crude Account (ECA); without recourse to the National Assembly.
The opposition political party noted that Buhari’s action is tantamount to a gross misconduct and betrayal of public trust, as it violates section 80 (3) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which vests the Legislature with the power of appropriation.
It equally charged the National Assembly “to investigate the whereabouts of the balance from the $1 billion ECA fund and the purposes for which it has been taken.”
The PDP insisted purchases must be within the ambit of the constitution.
“Buhari is aware that his unilateral spending of $496.3 million (N151.374 billion) from the ECA, without recourse to the legislative approval of the National Assembly, is gross violation of the laws and constitution of Nigeria and a direct affront on our statutory order as a democratic state.
“More disturbing is the revelation that president Buhari paid the $496.3 million for the purchase of military aircraft from the United States, ignored allegations of overpricing and issues concerning due process, just to achieve a political expediency of currying President Donald Trump’s support for his 2019 re-election bid.”
The PDP also stated it was shocking that Buhari, whose administration prides itself on claims of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption, could resort to an abuse of the constitution.
“It would be recalled that following the public outcry over the announcement that president Buhari had unilaterally approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the ECA, the Presidency, through the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Inang, on April 9, stated that no such approval had been made, and that the president would never act in breach of section 80 of the constitution; yet, they were aware that payments had been made.
“The resort to falsehood, deception and secrecy in the withdrawal from the ECA and the reported $496.3 million payment for the military aircraft raises very serious issues regarding the integrity of the Buhari Presidency.”
In his reaction, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, said the Presidency knows the legislative procedure to follow before any expenditure and that the National Assembly has not been informed about the security helicopter purchase.
“Section 80 (2-4) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, states clearly that any amount of money that will be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund must be backed by an Act of Parliament or it has to be prescribed in a manner that the National Assembly approves of it. Any money that is not taken within the prescribed law or without the National Assembly’s approval is actually a violation. But, l must tell you that all these quotations were just seen on the pages of newspapers.
“As a spokesman of the National Assembly, this letter has not been read on the floor of the House, at least, the House of Representatives.
“If it is read on the floor, the House will look at it and see with our colleagues where to come from and whether the explanation given by the Executive for the purchase of the aircraft is germane or not.
“I want to tell you that the National Assembly, ordinarily, is not out to frustrate the government. We will back government’s spending as long as it follows due process, laid down rules and regulations because we have so many security challenges, ranging from insurgency, herdsmen crisis, kidnapping, illegal oil bunkering to so many others. If we can have funds to buy military hardware; to bring down some of these crises, I think we can support it.”
Regadless, president Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, insisted a letter has been dispatched to the National Assembly, specifically on the purchase, and that it is of no use making political capital out of the matter.
“If anybody should try to nake an issue out of this, through the National Assembly, this is not proper at this time,” Shehu said on a Lagos-based television station, yesterday night.