Nigerian lawmakers oppose Jonathan’s plans to use Adamawa, Borno, Yobe’s allocations for emergency rule

President Goodluck Jonathan

Lawmakers insist the president has no powers to withhold state funds.

A week after limiting President Jonathan’s powers to use funds belonging to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state for the emergency rule in those states, the House of Representatives has turned away from an agreement with the senate to give the power back to the president.

The House approved a resolution, Tuesday, insisting its earlier decision holds, mandating the president to deploy only federal funds to administer the emergency rule in the three states. The decision nullified part of a conference report it reached with the senate.

The new order will come into effect after a similar reversal is approved by the senate. The House has urged the senate to deliver a similar resolution.

The policy somersault came as governments of the affected states increasingly demonstrate impatience with the president’s initial plan which should see funds belonging to their three states and local government areas deployed unilaterally by the president.

The Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, on Monday, threatened a legal action against the president if statutory funds belonging to the state were not released.

At the passage of the emergency gazette last week, while the senate agreed with the president’s plan to retain the powers to utilize funds belonging to those states, the House rebuffed the plan, and passed a version that gave Mr. Jonathan strictly security powers.

The House insisted that administrative powers, which require financing, be retained by the state governors and the council heads.

A conference meeting by both chambers late last week jettisoned the House’s position, giving back that spending power to the president.

But the House rejected that provision on Tuesday, as its conference committee reported the amendment back to the plenary.

“The house resolves to delete and revoke completely section 3(2)(e) of the harmonized, adopted and approved Emergency Powers(general) regulations, 2013 by both houses of the National Assembly,” a motion passed Tuesday said.

The lengthy resolution said the House reverted to its initial position due to “public outcry and outright opposition by majority of Nigerians” especially indigenes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

The House also cited the “near consensus of opinion of senior advocates of Nigeria and constitutional lawyers on the constitutionality of the said section” as well as Supreme Court’s repeated rulings on the autonomy of the finances of states and local government areas.

“I will never allow the institution to be an institution of arrogance. We should avoid any position that is against the constitution,” Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal said.


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