The report was laid before the House by the Deputy Chair of the Committee, Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed Garba, on behalf of the Chairman, Mutu Nicholas Ebomo.
Hon. Karmil Akinlabi (PDP Oyo), raising a Point of Order, queried the propriety of bringing a budget with just a few weeks to the end of the year.
Quoting Section 80(4) of the Constitution, Akinlabi wondered what the NDDC has been spending since April if they were bringing their budget at this late period.
But the Deputy Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, said the House had already ruled on the report. “We’re violating the rules of the House. We can’t go back into what the House has ruled on. Financial year is January to December, and any other time prescribed by the National Assembly.
However, the Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos), was of the opinion that the observation by Hon. Akinlabi was important, saying Section 18(4) of the Constitution is the basis on which Karmil was querying the NDDC budget.
“Matters like this can be brought at any time. What he is saying is based on section 80(4). We are in November now, from April to now, what has the NDDC been spending? I think this is what the House should look into. We should not sweep it under the carpet,” Gbajabiamila said.
But a member, Uzoma Nkem Abonta ( PDP Abia) vehemently opposed Gbajabiamila’s position. Speaking on a Point of Order, he said: “They have been denied the money till now, let them have the money. Did the report say they’ve been spending money till now. We gave the job to a committee. Is this point of Order an attempt to stop the region from their rights?
Sam Tsokwa, (PDP Taraba) Chairman of the House Committee on Rule and Business tried putting the issue in proper context.
“Lets look at what the Constitution calls a financial year. Financial year means any period of 12 months beginning from January of any year, or any such other date as the National Assembly may prescribe.The April to December (on the NDDC report) is a mistake that can be rectified when the report is at the Committee of the Whole”
Gbajabiamila however insisted that the issue of the financial year is not the only one in contention. “The issue that is being addressed apart from the financial year is section 80(4), where did the money that they ( NDDC) have been spending come from?
At this juncture, Hon. John Enoh (PDP Cross River), Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, waded into the issue, saying the Constitution permits some latitude for such spending before the passage of a budget.
He said: “The report of the Committee has been laid before the House. I think most of the issues being discussed are issues for the Committee of the Whole. While Section 80(4) is important, the Constitution permits expenditure for 6 months before the budget is passed.
The Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided while ruling said, he has noted the Point of Order raised by Hon. Akinlabi. “I request and appeal to our colleagues that if there are complaints, members should bring them during the consideration of the report.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.