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The president and vice-president meet with the National Assembly leadership

Nigeria’s legislative lawbreakers

The National Assembly has declared that it would not be a part of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy. President Muhammadu Buhari had indicated in his “media chat” on Wednesday that: “We are having problems with them (National Assembly) on TSA. We have to have a closed door session with them.”

A Senate spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said in an interview: “There is no trouble on TSA, it is as an executive programme and we cannot surrender our autonomy to the executive.

“Submitting ourselves to the TSA is surrendering our autonomy to the executive. We are on the first line charge as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Why should we give you our funds to put in the TSA and then we will be subjected to your own control, is that autonomy?

“That is just the issue; we’ve given our total support to the TSA programme. As far as we are concerned, we cannot subject ourselves to it because it amounts to mortgaging our autonomy.

“Our autonomy is guaranteed by the constitution and how our money should be paid is also guaranteed by the constitution.

“Are we saying our autonomy should be jettisoned? Are we a revenue generating arm? Are we saying that the constitution should be jettisoned, because somebody wants to do TSA? Are we going to put the Constitution aside and follow somebody’s wish? What we are following is constitutional.”

Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas, a spokesman for the House of Representatives, also agreed: “Every arm of government has its ways of operations. The issue of TSA is an executive matter, and in as much as we want to work together with the executive for good governance, we are not part of TSA for now.”

These claims by the National Assembly are not constitutional. Section 80 of the Constitution states:

(1) All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

(2) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.

(3) No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.

(4) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.

The Nigerian Constitution: ignored regularly by lawmakers
The Nigerian Constitution: ignored regularly by lawmakers

This section deals with control over public funds of the “federation”. The National Assembly is part of the “federation” and should not be exempt from that provision. All “federation” revenue must be operated out of a single account.

Operating outside that “consolidated revenue fund” is a flagrant disregard of the constitution by the country’s own lawmakers.

The practice in the past of various government agencies keeping their funds in different private banks in cosy arrangements that allow those banks to build up their cash reserves, and make such funds available to agency heads for diversion to unofficial purposes is unlawful behaviour that should be resisted.

If the National Assembly are not willing to obey the rules, the president to should instruct the Attorney-General to file a lawsuit against them in the Supreme Court.

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