Anti-Corruption And Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI) a whistleblower and Anti-Corruption Awareness disseminator, whose effort is to strengthen our democracy and ensure transparent, accountable and responsive governance devoid of corruption for our society, took the bull by the horn and filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation at Federal High Court, Abuja in a suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/884/2016, dated 1st day of Nov, 2016 and filed on the 4th day of Nov, 2016.
The plaintaiff (ARDI) is seeking a declaration that the National Assembly cannot unilaterally tinker with the Budget by adding or removing items without the consent of the Executive. The claim from the plaintiff derives its validity from Section 81 and 82 of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN (as amended). Supported by 21 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Mr Dennis Aghanya the executive Secretary the plaintiff.
In a press release by the ARDI Executive Secretary, Mr Dennis Aghanya he said, it is no longer a news that, there has been an issue of contention between the Executive and the Legislative arms of government respectively. Going by the research carried out by the Research Based Anti-Corruption NGO on Nigerian Budget experience since 1999 till the 2016 Budget saga, it shows that most business activities are usually affected due to the problems associated with the delay in the passage of the appropriation bill which is one of the major reasons for the slow economic activities every year.
According to Mr Dennis Aghanya, the 2016 Budget presentation and its final approval processes where characterized with much bickering (accusations and counter accusations), and this led to late passage of the said Budget. In the process, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Businesses, Manufacturers, Construction Companies and most Nigerians in other sectors of the economy experienced serious economic challenges due to delay in the passage of the Budget
You may recall that Mr. President refused to assent the appropriation Bill without seeing the details of what he was assenting to particularly that ,from what the National Assembly sent back to Him (Mr. President) one of the items known as ‘Calabar-Lagos Rail Project’ was tampered with, beside other grey areas that were noticed.
He further stated that, each time these controversies occurs it is because the National Assembly unilaterally adds or removes items from the appropriation bill and each time this takes place it is the Nigerian economy that suffers.
Now that another preparation is ongoing for another appropriation bill for the year 2017, there is need for the Honourable Court to interpret the provisions of the constitution on appropriation to save the country from experiencing another delay in the passage of the budget.