By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, has risen in defence of President Muhammadu Buhari for his gesture in assisting state governments with bailout funds.
It also condemned last week’s position of the Senate, which declared the bailout unconstitutional.
In a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, IPAC insisted that bailout policy was a timely intervention by the Buhari-led government in an emergency situation, which didn’t have to wait for National Assembly’s appropriation.
In the statement issued by its National Chairman, Mohammad Nalado, IPAC said its position was in reaction to the point of order raised by Senator Samuel (PDP, Imo East), during Senate plenary, last week, in which he described the bailout fund granted to state governors as unconstitutional since it was not appropriated by NASS, seeking the Senate to probe the President for the constitutional breach.
Nalado, who is also the chairman of Accord Party, AP, said at the time the decision was taken by the President, about 23 states owed civil servants salaries running into 10 or15 months.
While pointing out that the lawmakers would not even endure two months of unpaid salaries, the IPAC boss said the money was not for any Federal Government project but for the constituents, who were facing hardship due to non-payment of salaries by the governors.
The statement read: “All the President did was service to the people because it is not possible to allow people to stay one or two years without salaries.
‘’There was news everywhere that some governors were owing fifteen months, twelve months, and how do you expect or allow people with family to stay for that long without salary? And there was also economic recession biting hard across the country then.
“The workers that the government bailed out were in difficult situation because they had school fees, house rent and other bills to pay and this bailout was aimed to reduce crime and tension because some of them could have resorted to criminal activities if not for the government’s intervention.
‘’It was a bailout for emergency which could not have waited for National Assembly’s appropriation.
“But also, the governors who have received these money must be made to give account on how they spent the money because the public is watching, they should make judicious use of the money for the purpose it was meant which is bailout. It should not be diverted for any political purpose.’’
The group said it would not sit by and encourage actions inimical to democracy, charging the lawmakers to remember that this was the first time democracy had taken long in Nigeria, and the need for it to be sustained.
It also said the plans to probe the policy could divert the agenda of the government towards the people, calling for support and encouragement from the parliament towards the government.
IPAC said lawmakers should not be a stumbling block to government but partners who would work with their different party leadership to engender an enduring stability in the system.
“IPAC does not want crisis to disrupt this democracy and we do not want the National Assembly to derail this democracy but to stabilize it. This is why it is important to bailout those at the grassroots. Emergency situation does not require due process sometimes but waiver,’’ the group said.
It regretted what it described as the continued deteriorating relationship between the National Assembly and President Mohammadu Buhari, saying the antagonistic approach of the lawmakers towards the President was frustrating and derailing Nigeria’s democracy.
The body, therefore, cautioned the federal lawmakers to subject themselves to party supremacy, even as it lamented that actions of the members of parliament had become a cog in the wheel of political and economic progress of the nation.
“Members of the National Assembly should understand the ruling party’s manifesto and cooperate with the executive to actualize the agenda of alleviating the hardship facing Nigerians, rather than always being critical of the government in every policy,’’ IPAC stated.
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