Oshiomhole: Okonjo-Iweala, Dasuki, Others Involved In Extra Budgetary Spending Must Be Prosecuted
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has renewed his verbal onslaught on officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, calling for the prosecution of all those involved in extra budgetary expenditure under the former administration.
The governor, who spoke in reference to the alleged extra-budgetary spending on arms procurement during the Jonathan administration, described the action as illegal in the eyes of the law.
Speaking at the quadrennial delegates conference of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in Abuja, Mr. Oshiomhole said democratic norms and the nation’s legal system recognized separation of powers, which is why no funds can be spent from the treasury without first being appropriated by the legislature.
He also described as criminal, the release of money from the treasury by a minister, when such funds were not budgeted for nor captured in the Appropriation Act.
Gov. Oshiomhole, a former labour leader, slammed the organized labour for being docile in recent times, saying it was unfortunate that once a wealthy Nigerian is accused of corruption, he would seek the court’s permission to seek treatment abroad.
He recalled that “Last week, a big man was accused of spending $2billion and he said, ‘yes, we bought arms’. The law says before money is spent, it must first be appropriated by parliament. That money, which they claimed to have used to buy arms, was it appropriated by the National Assembly?
“Does the then President have power to spend money that has not been appropriated? Does the Minister have power to release money from the national treasury that has not been captured in the appropriation law? Is that not part of conspiracy?
“NLC should insist that all those involved in non-approved spending and money that was not in the Appropriation Act must not only refund the money, but must be prosecuted”.
Gov. Oshiomhole said it was paradoxical that when a “big man” flouts the law, senior lawyers in the country are ready to “go to war” and medical doctors placed on standby to attend to his health.
“A man is facing huge corruption charges and judges are granting permission for him to fly overseas”, he said, however, “When a worker is accused by a local policeman of driving without driver’s licence, he is dumped in the cell and from there to prison”.
According to him, a visit to the various prisons around the country will reveal that many people are in detention and their health is failing over a minor offence.
“You go to our prisons, you see sick detainees whose only offence is that they stole N100. Do they have permission to go overseas for treatment?
“Are there instances of court granting them permission to go and get well first before facing trial? Are we all not supposed to be equal before the law? Criminal charges are not like Christmas packages. People must be made to pay for their crimes.
“They have lived above the law before because they were covered by the umbrella and we couldn’t see them and now that the umbrella has been blown off, they must answer their father’s name and the working class must support the effort. I ask us to meticulously follow the debate and what is going on and take a position”, Gov. Oshiomhole stressed.
On the national minimum wage, Oshiomhole faulted his colleagues under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum for saying the minimum wage was centrally fixed and imposed on them.
He said: “The idea of minimum wage must be sustained and I have told my colleagues. What must be clear for those who want to selectively apply the principle of federalism is that the head must lead by example for others to follow.
“Why must the salaries of governors be centrally determined in Abuja through the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission? Why should the Edo State Governor earn the same salary as the Lagos State Governor? This is fixed by Abuja. So, if we want to decentralise, we start from the top and not from the bottom. The idea of a minimum wage is meant to have a floor. It talks about the minimum; it doesn’t talk about the maximum.
“Buhari does not believe that the burden of this current crisis should be borne by the poorest of our society. He does not share the conviction that market and market alone should determine the way forward. So, support him to squeeze from those who have so that those who are thirsty can have something.
“The rich must pay more tax. Anybody who parks a private jet on Abuja tarmac, Revenue Board must ask him to provide his tax receipt so that we know how much tax he pays”, Oshiomhole said.