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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Dino Melaye, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of playing to the gallery with his allegation that the National Assembly padded the 2018 budget.

Melaye in a one-page statement on Thursday advised President Buhari to refrain from playing to the gallery “and milking the naivety of the masses on the budget issues”.

According to the senator representing Kogi West, “I notice that President Buhari is trying to whip up sentiments against the National Assembly again by alleging that the 2018 budget was padded.”

He, however, explained that what the president is authorised to do constitutionally is to present the National Assembly with a Bill “which is a work in progress and not the finished work”.

“The reason the constitution directs the Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly is that it expects the National Assembly to vet it and make inputs into such a Bill before passing it as the Appropriation Act.

“The National Assembly is not just expected to rubber stamp whatever Bill the president presents. If this was the norm then there would have been no need for the constitution to direct that the Bill be submitted to the National Assembly in the first place,” he said.

Melaye further explained that President Buhari reserves the right to append his signature to the Bill passed if it meets with his displeasure, adding that the president is also free to return the Bill to the National Assembly unsigned with a note indicating his areas of disaffection.

While questioning the percentage of implementation of capital budget in the last three years, the senator posited that the powers and authority of the National Assembly cannot be eroded by the presidency.

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