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Jonathan the Salah Man

Some  legal experts have said President Goodluck Jonathan cannot commence the  implementation of the 2014 budget if  the All Progressives Congress  lawmakers insist on blocking it.Speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH on  Friday, legal experts explained that only the National Assembly had the  veto power, where bills and laws were concerned, even if the President  refuses to assent to them.Legal practitioner and human rights  activist, Mr. Femi Falana, said, in accordance with the constitution, it  would be futile for the President to challenge the directive of the  APC.He said, “The President need not go to  court, because it has been judicially decided that no court can  interfere in the internal affairs of the House. In other words, the  court cannot jettison the instructions of political parties.”Also, Mr. Babajide Idowu, a legal  practitioner, told our correspondent that it would be technically  impossible for the budget to be passed without the approval of either of  the houses of legislature.“It is technically impossible for the  budget to be passed without the input of the National Assembly. Going to  court is not an option. The only way forward is a political solution.  It is in the interest of the country to resolve it politically,” he  said.Pertaining to the approval of ministers and service chiefs, however, Mr. Idowu explained that the Senate has the deciding vote.He said, “As regards the issue of  ministerial appointments, it is the Senate that confirms. The  ministerial appointees might appear before a joint sitting of the  committees of both houses, but confirmation rests on the Senate. And as  it is, the PDP still has a majority in the Senate.”Professor Oyelowo Oyewo of the  Department of Public Law, University of Lagos, also said all approvals  are vested in the Senate, rather than the House of Representatives.“However, the House is also involved in  the procedure for the embankment of budgetary bills into acts that  become the law,” he added.He described the development in the National Assembly as curious, especially since the PDP had enjoyed majority status.“This is the first time we’re having a  problem of a House that is controlled by different parties, arising from  the defection of some representatives to APC. Before now, the PDP did  whatever they wanted because the minority parties didn’t have sufficient  seats to be so much involved in political workings at national level,”  he said.He stated that the powers wielded by the  House of Representatives to pass budgets were as a result of  counterbalancing of constitution.“Constitutional counterbalancing is  necessary to ensure checks and balances.

The President is voted in as  one constituency for Nigeria, and he’s given the position of the chief  executive officer to lead executive bills. However, (constitutionally)  we counterbalance this one constituency against the aggregation of  constituencies,” he explained.According to Prof. Oyewo, separation of  powers allows counterbalancing between the various arms of government.  He added that the budget should not be an imposition by the executive,  but should be scrutinised by the people’s representatives in the House.Another legal practitioner, Professor Itse Sagay, said the President had no powers to defy the directive.He said, “No law can be passed at the  national level without the House of Representatives. You need the House  of Representatives, the Senate, and the President, who will sign the  law.“If the President fails to sign the bill  into law, then the National Assembly can meet and override his veto by a  two-thirds majority. At that point, it is a law, even without his  signature. If all APC votes are against the budget being passed, it  won’t even go to the President. That is the implication.“When the budget has not been passed,  the government can continue to spend up to 50 per cent of the budget.  When it has exhausted that, it is stuck.”The constitution is not merely a legal  document, Prof. Oyewo explained further. According to him it is a legal,  political, social and cultural document.“What is important is the democratic  spirit in those that are called upon to exercise power. And that is what  is lacking, both in the PDP and APC. It is now just a game of power and  2015 is the destination,” he said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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