New law seeks penalties for non-implementation of budget

National Assembly

The National Assembly is processing a fresh legislation, with stiff penalties, including impeachment for non-implementation of national budgets.

The bill, which is being given expeditious consideration, also provides specific timeline for the preparation, consideration and enactment of national budgets, emanated from reports of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) after series of engagements with stakeholders on the budget process.

It made it clear that the lack of sufficient and comprehensive regulatory framework for the budget process have become serious obstacles to the budget process in Nigeria.

But the presidency has described the planned imposition of penalties as unrealistic, pointing out that implementation of budget is based on availability of funds.

NILS’ Director-General, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, informed stakeholders at the interactive session that the bill has been accepted by the two chambers for enactment into law.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, argued at the session that because the budget is a mere statement of expectation, it would be difficult to really sanction anybody for not implementing it.

Section 33 of the bill stated that anybody found to have breached any of the budget processes would be deemed to have committed an act of misconduct.

Some lawyers believe the effort to pass the new law is unnecessary because the Constitution in Section 143 (11), already empowers the National Assembly to remove the president or his vice for gross misconduct.

Constitutional lawyer and author, Sebastine Hon (SAN) said it is unconstitutional to pass such law.

For Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), every breach of the constitution amounts to gross misconduct. He stated that the non implementation of the appropriation Act although an act of the national assembly and not a constitutional provision ought to have been tested at the Supreme Court so as to determine whether it amounts to breach of the constitution that can warrant removal from office.

Abubakar Sani, an Abuja based lawyer said the lawmakers are playing to the gallery. The president can be impeached for breach of the constitution, which amounts to gross misconduct, but I don’t think that non-implementation of the budget amounts to an impeachable offence.’’



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