Why we stand on $79 benchmark, by Gbajabiamila

Aminu Tambuwal 1

Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, House of Reps

20 November 2013, Abuja – The oppositon in the House of Representatives Tuesday said it won’t back down on its position that the oil price benchmark of the budget is $79.

In a statement last night, Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila said the opposition would remain steadfast on this position to protect the integrity of the legislature.

He said: “The constitution in line with the principles of federalism, particularly fiscal federalism states clearly in section 162 (1):

“The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues (emphasis mine) collected by the Government of the Federation………….”

Section 162 (3) further states: “Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and state Governments and the local government council in each State on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”

“The section provides that ALL REVENUES and not some revenues (which is what the keeping of part of the oil revenue in another account does) should be paid into the federation account for distribution of to all tiers of government.

“What this means is that the federal government cannot take part of the revenue of the country as its own to be distributed to states as and when it wishes or spend for itself through the instrumentality of an illegal excess crude account. It is an unconstitutional appropriation.

“There are only two accounts known to our constitution; the federation account and the consolidated revenue account. Though the constitution in section 162 also permits the operation of any other account permitted by an Act of the National Assembly, the National Assembly did not at anytime enact a statute to create the excess crude account.

“Indeed as an institution, we have wittingly or unwittingly condoned an illegality. We must not perpetuate it and call on our colleagues to immediately stop the operation of this or any other illegal account.

“Indeed the time has come to test the constitutionality of the “benchmark” in court. If the debate on benchmark must go on, then it should

– The Nation

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