ABUJA. – The Nigerian parliament on Tuesday criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for buying warplanes from the United States without parliamentary approval. A lot of flak followed the reading of President Buhari’s letter to parliament by its leader, Yakubu Dogara, as parliamentarians questioned the president’s decision to order the release of $496 million to purchase the military aircraft without the constitutionally required approval.
The delivery of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft by the United States was to be done by 2020, under a direct government-to-government arrangement.
Discussion toward the purchase had been on for a number of years.
In his letter to the parliament on Tuesday, President Buhari said the approval for Nigeria to take delivery of the war-planes was finally granted by the US government, but with a deadline within which part payment must be made, otherwise, the contract would lapse.
The president pleaded with the legislators to accommodate the $496 million expenditure as supplementary input to the country’s 2018 Appropriation Bill, drawing the attention of the lawmakers to ongoing security emergencies in Nigeria.
The Nigerian leader also confirmed that the money had been paid “directly to the treasury of the US government,” with President Buhari set to meet US president Donald Trump on April 30.
The Nigerian lawmakers accused the president of breaching the Constitution, which stipulated how the nation’s resources could be expended through an appropriation by the National Assembly.
Kingsley Chinda, a lawmaker representing Nigeria’s oil-rich state of Rivers, said the decision of the president was “an impeachable offense,” noting the Nigerian Constitution did not give room for anticipatory approval of the budget.
Another lawmaker, Sunday Karimi, accused President Buhari of snubbing parliament to make payment deposits to the US treasury without due process, calling for an impeachment process against the president.
Closing the plenary, the parliament speaker ruled that “an appropriation can only be done through a bill and the House would want to operate within the ambit of the rules.”
Parliament said the president’s request as contained in the letter would be debated on another legislative day. – Xinhua.