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Buhari And Quest For Emergency Powers

Posted: Aug 29, 2016 at 6:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

It was reported last week that President Muhammadu Buhari would be seeking emergency powers from the National Assembly to push his planned stimulus for the economy.

The objectives of the action-plan on the economy, which is in recession, include shoring up the value of the naira, creation of more jobs, boosting of foreign reserves, reviving the manufacturing sector and improving power.

Sources in government said the decision to seek emergency powers for the President was based on a proposal by the economic team. The economic team, it was learnt, argued that unless the powers were granted, some of the extant laws will not permit President to take extra-ordinary measures to implement policies that would jumpstart the economy and “the recession may be longer than expected and Nigerians will not get the desired respite, which is the goal of this government”.

An executive bill entitled: “Emergency Economic Stabilisation Bill 2016” is to be presented to the National Assembly when they resume from vacation on September 12.

Buhari would be seeking powers to:

  • abridge the procurement process to support stimulus spending on critical sectors of the economy;
  • make orders to favour local contractors/suppliers in contract awards;
  • abridge the process of sale or lease of government assets to generate revenue;
  • allow virement of budgetary allocation to projects that are urgent, without going back to the National Assembly.
  • amend certain laws, such as the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Act, so that states that cannot access their cash trapped in the accounts of the commission because they cannot meet the counterpart funding.

However, many industrialists and experts said such proposal was long overdue and should be granted by the National Assembly. They argued that the economic situation in the country demanded extra-ordinary measures to take it out of recession.

An entrepreneur posited that the President should be given whatever powers he needed to take the country out of recession.

However, some Nigerians have criticised the proposal, saying that there are trust issues between the President and the people. They stated that the proposal would give sweeping powers to the president, adding that the powers could be abused. They insisted that some of the top aides had abused the powers they had when they occupied political positions in previous governments.

The critics called on the President to demonstrate that he can control some of his aides and stop them from awarding contracts to themselves and their cronies. Some of them cited what they called the “lopsided nature of the appointments” which the President has made. They called for more openness in the way government business is conducted.

Will the bill see the light of day? Will the National Assembly grant the sweeping powers? Time will tell.