Don’t sign 2017 budget, Falana tells FG
From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
A Lagos-based lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday asked Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo not to sign the 2017 budget until the National Assembly removed the N448 billion added to the budget. This was just as he urged Nigerian authorities to fish out those rumoured to be planning to topple President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration with a view to trying them for treasonable felony.
He also called for the arrest and prosecution of the civilian collaborators of the “coup plotters.”
According to him, it is illegal to jerk up the budget and allocate the chunk of the addition to themselves. He wondered why such should happen at a time when Nigerians are groaning in pains of poverty and non-availability of basic infrastructure.
Falana made the call in Ilorin, Kwara State, yesterday in a paper titled: “Politics, leadership and accountability, the role of the people” which he delivered at a colloquium on Kwara @50 organised by The Movement For Genuine Change. He, however, warned the political class to stop playing into the hands of potential coup plotters.
Falana, added that the enemies of democracy were desperately trying to exploit President Buhari’s health to truncate the democratic dispensation. “But, in view of the bastardisation of our politics and devaluation of our national morality by previous military dictators, the Nigerian people must be prepared to reject the coming into power of another fake salvation army.
“Notwithstanding the glaring shortcomings of the fragile democratic process, the people should be allowed to take advantage of the democratic structures to take their political destiny in their hands.
“On their part, the political class should stop playing into the hands of potential coup plotters. While the decision of the Army chief to alert the nation of the devilish plot is appreciate, the authorities should proceed to fish out the coup plotters and their civilian collaborators with a view to trying them for treasonable felony.”
On the controversy surrounding who will sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law, the legal giant insisted that only the Acting President, Osinbajo is constitutionally empowered to sign the document.
“The President is not competent to sign any bill into law while he is on vacation. The constitution did not envisage that a president who is on vacation and an acting president who is standing proxy for him will be exercising presidential powers simultaneously. To that extent, pending the resumption of duties by President Buhari, the acting president, is competent to sign all bills validly passed by the National Assembly.
On the economic front, Falana called for the resuscitation of the Peoples’ Bank to give loans to indigent citizens who could not access loans in commercial banks, to cushion the effect of the recession.
“The Islamic Bank and others which are not going to charge interests should be established. In addition, the Federal Government should spend the fund recovered from corrupt public officers and their privies on job creation and fixing of hospitals and schools as well as the funding of other social services.
“It has to be pointed out that the economy of the country cannot be transformed in favour of Nigeria on the basis of the dangerous prescriptions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“Nigerians should therefore be prepared to challenge the recycled neo-liberal managers of the economy who continue to insist on the dominance of market forces which have been discredited by the crisis of global capitalism.”
“The Nigerian people should be organised,empowered and mobilised through their unions associations and collectives to rebuild the country. “