By Hon. Kefas Japhet
RE; Open letter to the Speaker and Members of the Adamawa State House of Assembly against the illegal legislation on the approval of the Adamawa State Revised Budget 2020 – 2022 and Loan Facility of the total sum of Seventeen Billion Naira (N17, 000,000,000.00)
The attention of the Honorable House was drawn to a publication titled “Open letter to the Speaker and Members of the Adamawa State House of Assembly against the illegal legislation on the approval of the Adamawa State Revised Budget 2020 – 2022 and Loan Facility of the total sum of Seventeen Billion Naira (N17, 000,000,000.00)”.
Though it is not the practice of the Honorable House to waste it valuable time in responding to such kind of publication, as doing so will not only distract the House from performing its Constitutional mandate, but will also accord the writers some cheap popularity which of course is the main intend and purpose of the write up. In this instance, the Honorable House deems it appropriate for whatever its worth to response to this malicious publication to educate the writers and also to liberate the general public from the total misconception of facts and the inefficiency of the writers in legislative practices and procedures.
The writers should be forgiven for exhibiting blatant ignorance of the House Rules/Procedures and facts, which a simple request for explanation would have solved. First of all there is a big difference in procedure for approving loan request and passage of Appropriation/monetary Bills. While loan requests could be approve by resolution, there is no way a Bill could be approved as presented without going through the prescribed 3 readings.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Revised Appropriation Budget came along with a Bill and same was received by the Honorable House on the 20th May, 2020. The Bill was read the First time on the 1st of June, 2020 and Second time on 2nd June, 2020. The Bill was thereafter committed to the House Standing Committee on Finance, Appropriation and Budget for consideration and report, the committee is yet to submit its report to the Honorable House for it consideration. The votes and proceedings of 1st and 2nd day of June, 2020 might have served as a guide to the writers but having chosen this part with intent to embarrass, cause annoyance and instigate members of the public against the Honorable House, the writers deliberately shoot their eyes to the clear and verifiable facts just to achieve their selfish mission of maligning the House in the eyes of the public.
Ordinarily, the writers might have been exonerated of any blame for not been acquainted with the aforesaid information or procedure, but having claim to be tax paying good people of Adamawa State who are interested in the State affairs, specifically in the entrenchment of due process of Law, Transparency and Accountability in governance, The writers could have saved themselves from the embarrassment of this poorly researched publication by sparing their time to attend the plenary of the Honorable House on the stated dates to witness the proceedings in question or better still to commission a more vibrant and intelligent informant who is conversant with the procedures of the Legislature to serve as their informant rather than engaging someone who couldn’t differentiate between the process of passing Bill and a request for Loan. The Honorable House feel embarrassed that this caliber of person exist within the mix of modern day Legislatures but couldn’t put himself forward for tutelage by a competent Staff or Honorable Member.
The First letter referred to, simply forwarded copies of Revised 2020 -2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy paper. Therefore, if the writers had comprehended the content of the letter they would have realized that what was “approved” was the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy paper and not the Bill on the revised budget. In any case both the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Loan request are not Bills, therefore can be approved by resolution simpliciter.
The Second letter was referred to the most appropriate Committee and given the maximum of two weeks to report back to the Whole House. As is apparent the writers are not aware of the synergy between the Executive and Legislature and therefore are ignorant of the fact that members of the Committee may have been working with Executive, Bank Officials on the loan. The fact that the Committee was given two weeks and were able to complete the work in one day should be Hon. attributed to efficiency and exigencies of the times and urgent needs of the State and not to breach of any rule. It is also pertinent to mention here that contrary to the claim of the writers that the House approved the loan facility without an outline details of the purpose of the loan, the letter of request was accompanied by the details of the purposes for which the loan was required.
The writers had made heavy weather on the provision of Order 74 Rule (1) of the Standing Order of the Honorable House in justifying their malice against the Honorable House, though we have clarified this point somewhere in this write up, assuming without conceding that the said Bill was passed the same day as the writers want the public to believe, there is nothing in the said Order prohibiting the Honorable House from doing so. The writers have admitted that it is within the powers of the Honorable House to suspend its Rules and consider the said Bill on the same date but they maliciously failed to state whether the said procedure was followed or not.
Also despite the fact that it was explicitly stated that the interest rates were based on the newly approved CBN guidelines, the writers still gave the interest rates to the extent of suggesting a strange figure without any backing document.
It is pertinent to note that, with regards to the letters referred to by the writers; no Bill has been passed by the Honorable House to warrant a situation of breaching rules. Revised Appropriation Bill is still under consideration and has not been passed yet. The writers are invited to the House for explanation on its procedures and Rules for better understanding.
If really the writers are what they professed to be, we advise that they should avail themselves with the opportunity provided by the House for members of the general public to attend the plenary of the House to witness and learn the practices and procedures of the legislature to save them from future blunders of this nature or if they so wish they can enroll into the National Institute for Democratic and Legislative Studies, Abuja to save them the cost of coming to attend plenary proceedings in the House.
Hon. Kefas Japhet
(Chairman House Committee on Information)