The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has set up a committee to resolve outstanding issues between the executive and legislative arms of the government, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said.
Mr. Mohammed told reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday in Abuja that the executive is concerned about its deteriorating relationship with the National Assembly.
“The executive is also quite worried and quite concerned that the relationship between the two arms of government is not as smooth as it is supposed to be,” he said.
“In any democracy, it is a continuous struggle for balancing between the executive and the legislature because each of them is creatures of the law.
“We must strive at all times to ensure that there is that balance, amity and smooth relationship.
“Just today at the Federal Executive Council meeting, this matter was discussed and a committee is already working on ensuring that we resolve all these outstanding issues.’’
The Senate on Tuesday suspended the confirmation of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners over what it described as President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sack the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The upper chamber also on Tuesday summoned the chairman of the presidential committee on anti-corruption, Itse Sagay, whom it accused of making derogatory remarks against the Senate.
Mr. Sagay was quoted by Punch newspaper as describing the senate’s refusal to confirm the re-nomination of Mr. Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC as “childish and irresponsible”.
The Senate also turned back the comptroller-general of Customs, Hameed Ali, (an appointee of the President) for not appearing in Customs uniform.
Senators, by a voice vote, had directed him to return to the National Assembly on Wednesday, March 22, in proper uniform designated for the office of Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.
The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education also summoned the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to explain why the permanent secretary of his Ministry, Jamila Shuara, refused to appear before the House of over her extension of service.
Mr. Mohammed described the protest embarked upon by unions in his ministry as normal in any democratic environment.
He, however, appealed to the unions to show more understanding as the ministry was doing all it could to meet their demands if the nation’s economy improved.
“It is not unusual for unions to call for the removal of ministers. Any minister should expect that.
“They are complaining about welfare but there is a limit to what government can do within the available resources.
“As much as we sympathise with them on the situation, the economy is simply not healthy enough to accommodate what is used to accommodate in the past.
“If anybody is concerned and worried about expenditures in my ministry, they should go and check because it is open.
“We have appealed to them several times but we met a culture that we cannot sustain. If and when the economy improves, we will look into some of the grievances that are genuine.
“We listen to them; they always meet with the Permanent secretary and directors. But once the resources are not there, there is little we can do. We will just continue to plead with them to be patient with us,’’ he said.
Also speaking with the reporters, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahma Dambazau, disclosed that the council approved N403 million for the purchase of 15 water carrying vehicles for the Federal Fire Service to further revamp the fire service unit.
“Today’s council approved the procurement of some water carrying vehicles for the Federal Fire Service, this is in an attempt to further revamp the federal fire service which has experienced dearth of equipment for a very long time and that with the challenges we have in terms of fire incidents all over the country.
“The last time I spoke I told you the government is making every effort to make sure that the fire service is revamped so that we have the necessary equipment, training and personnel to be able to face the challenges.
“Today as part of it FEC approved what is remaining of the 2016 budget, the procurement of 15 water tankers that have the capacity to be used as fighting trucks.
“This is costing the government N403million out of the budget that was appropriated in 2016.
“The total budget is about 5.5billion naira for the procurement of fire-fighting equipment and we have already procured a lot from that.’’
Similarly, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, told the correspondents that the council approved the ratification for the establishment of the West African Tax Administration forum.
According to her, forum is a platform to promote mutual agreement and cooperation among West African tax authorities.
“Nigeria is the host of this body but we have ratified the project. The effect of it is that there will be better information sharing and cooperation between countries within West Africa on tax administration. This is really part of our tax reform efforts.
“As you know Nigerians own properties in Ghana and other neigbouring countries, now for tax purposes they will be able to have access to that type of information.
“Linked to that is the directive of the FEC to the SGF to remind companies that there is an existing provision in the law that companies are supposed to have on their letter headed papers the names of their directors and their registered offices but what we have seen is that many bodies that are transacting business with government simply have the names of the company and no details of who the directors are.
“So for tax purposes it is quite difficult to trace them, so the SGF will be issuing a circular reminding agencies and ministries of government that it is the law and therefore they are at liberty not to treat any document that doesn’t comply with the law.
“And equally the Accountant General is being advised that payment will only be effected to companies that are fully in compliance with the law just to make sure that all those who are doing business with government and making from government are paying the right taxes.’’
Mrs. Adeosun stated that the council also endorsed the 500 million Eurobond, saying that the National Assembly had already approved the Eurobond.