NASS accuses Okonjo-Iweala of blackmail

Members of the House of Representatives
hit hard at the Finance Minister and
Coordinating Minister for the Economy,
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday, saying
her recent comments in the media were
tantamount to blackmailing and inciting
Nigerians against the National Assembly.
The House has, therefore, summoned the
minister to appear before its joint
Committee on Finance, Appropriation and
Legislative Compliance to explain what she
meant in her statement that the Federal
Government may not be able to pay
workers’ salaries by September if the
National Assembly failed to pass the N72
billion Budget Amendment Bill before it.
Senators were similarly livid with rage at
Tuesday’s plenary, as they warned the
executive arm of government, particularly
Okonjo-Iweala and the Budget Office, to
desist from inciting the public against the
National Assembly over the impasse
arising from the budget amendment saga.
Only last week, the House threw out the
2013 Budget Amendment Bill forwarded
by President Goodluck Jonathan in March,
saying it was unconstitutional.
This development compelled the President
to send a fresh request to the National
Assembly last Thursday.
But Okonjo-Iweala was alleged to have
said the nation’s economy would be on
the verge of collapse should the
lawmakers fail to pass Bill.
Angered by the minister’s comment, the
House in a motion raised under Matters of
Urgent National Importance sponsored by
Minority Whip, Samson Osagie, accused
Okonjo-Iweala of consistently insulting the
sensibilities of the lawmakers and inciting
Nigerian workers against them.
“This assertion is intended not only to
blackmail the National Assembly in the
performance of its constitutional
mandate, but also to incite Nigerian
workers against a legitimate and non-
militant institution of government –
National Assembly.
“There is a subsisting and valid
Appropriation Act duly signed into law by
the President, which is the operating
budget for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
for the financial year 2013,” Osagie
He said the minister had no right to raise
such an alarm, adding that the National
Assembly was alive to its responsibilities
and would not be stampeded or
blackmailed by any appointee of
government in the discharge of its duties.
“From available field reports, the
executive organ of government is
deliberately delaying or exercising undue
tardiness in the implementation of the
2013 budget.
“The Minister of Finance has consistently
insulted the sensibilities of the institution
of the National Assembly through her
constant umbrage and blackmail of this
Deputy Speaker of the House, Emeka
Ihedioha, who presided over the
proceedings on Tuesday, ruled that the
House had adopted the motion without
On their part, Senators at a post-plenary
press briefing addressed by Chairman of
the Committee on Information, Enyinnaya
Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), said the
executors of the 2013 budget were
compounding the implementation with the
amendment proposal.
Abaribe stated that budget amendment
proposal as contained in the President’s
letter was akin to sending in an entirely
new budget estimate.
He said Senate might not be able to
deliberate on it due to time constraints
and legislative workload until after its
vacation sometime in September.
But the Senate is expecting a new budget
estimate for 2014 from the Executive also
in September.
“What we got in June from the President
was a set of whole list of Amendments. We
found out that the amendment is even
more than the budget package itself.
“I do not think the Presidency will expect
us to consider the amendment now until
we come back from vacation. They are
already giving the public the wrong
impression that the National Assembly is
delaying that budget.
“We appeal that efforts should not be
made to put us on a collision course with
the public. Efforts will be made for every
Nigerian to benefit from the budget.
“And when they bring another budget in
September, what do you expect us to do?
We have other jobs to do. The only
problem we have today is what Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala said; that the economy will
breakdown if the National Assembly did
not do their job by considering the
amendments made,” Abaribe told

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