Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki Yesterday said President Mohammadu Buhari did not get clearance from National Assembly leadership before going ahead to give approval for the purchase of $1bn Arms procurement to execute the trouble befalling the nation’s internal security specifically in the northeast.
President Muhammadu Buhari through the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, had last week, said, Buhari gave approval for the purchase of equipment for the military to the tune of $1 billion. Saraki also said that the leadership of the National Assembly was not aware of the plan by the executive to get N4.2 billion bonds until the President wrote to the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking approval for the issuance of a promissory note to offset inherited local debts.
Buhari had, in the letters, said that his administration inherited by debt, just as he said that the decision to seek the approval of the National Assembly by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, was in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Senate President, however, attributed the delay in the process of budget passage and addressing issues of security challenges in the country as well as other national issues to what he described as avoidable friction between the executive and legislative arms of government.
Declaring open, yesterday, in Jos, Senate Press Corps Retreat, the Senate President who warned that the executive could not do it alone, said that if Nigeria truly wants democracy, it was imperative that the legislative arm must be strengthened at all levels of government. Saraki noted that institutions are not built on individuals but on institutions, just as he stressed that until such a psyche was removed in our environment, the nation’s democracy will continue to be threatened.
These are the issues we are talking about.” Arguing that the friction between the two arms of government goes beyond party affiliations the Senate President said: “Even during the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan when PDP was in charge of the executive and the legislature, there were frictions.
Meanwhile, Shawulu, who represents Donga/Ussa/Takum/Special Area Constituency of Taraba State, said there may be serious implications, should the money go out for such purpose without approval from the legislature.
He spoke to reporters in Abuja, on the sidelines of the Second Procurement Awareness Seminar, organized by the Directorate of Procurement, Army Headquarters. He said: “I can inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military worth $1 billion, Dan-Ali was quoted to have said while responding to questions from newsmen on Wednesday at the State House.
“The fact of the matter is that there are processes for money coming into the federation account and for the money being used. And the point we must note too is that a lot of times, pronouncements are policy statements and the policy statements are not just executed, it’s not as if, when the announcement was made, the federation account was debited. No, it doesn’t happen that way.
“When the President says he’s going to spend money, there’s a process that is followed before the money is spent. So, I want you to understand that, it’s not as if money has gone out. “However, if money has gone out without parliamentary approval, that’s is a problem, it’s a very serious problem if the money went out without parliamentary approval.
” In his opening remarks on the occasion, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, said there was no gainsaying the fact that the operational capability of the Nigerian Army today depends on the availability of requisite hardware, highly trained personnel and other essential resources.
According to him, in the past few years, the Nigerian Army “has no doubt taken robust steps and put in place policies in enhancing its procurement plans and processes, with a view to meeting its constitutional roles. Buratai said the theme for this year’s seminar” Optimizing the Operational Capabilities of the Nigerian Army through an Effective Procurement System”, was quite unique and significant, especially in view of the acute need to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Army towards meeting the present growing security challenges.
“The security challenges facing our dear country manifest in the forms of terrorism, insurgency, separatist movements and banditry, among others,” he noted. He charged participants to reflect on the theme, bearing in mind the opportunities to enhance the Nigerian Army’s capabilities, building upon ongoing successes in view of operational commitments and improving procurement methods as well as processes in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”