ABUJA — The House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened the Federal Government that until it places a ceiling on all debts and borrowing, it would no longer treat executive bills from the Federal Government.
A 90-day ultimatum given to President Goodluck Jonathan by the House of Representatives to fix a debt ceiling for the country elapsed yesterday with the president failing to comply with the ultimatum.
Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos/ACN) while briefing the lawmakers on the 90 days expiration, insisted that henceforth, executive Bills from the president be put on hold until Jonathan announces a debt ceiling for the country in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Gbajabiamila last April led lawmakers to issue a 90-day ultimatum to Jonathan to implement the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which makes provisions for a national debt ceiling amid concerns over rising foreign debt.
He stated: “It is not a resolution (referring to the debt ceiling directive), it is an Act of parliament that is being flagrantly abused. The 90 days has elapsed and the president is yet to comply. If we pass a resolution and it is not implemented, but what about Acts that are passed by the House?”
Gbajabiamila called for retaliatory actions for Jonathan’s non compliance with the Green House directive, noting: “It is time we do something about it. Any Bill brought by the president should be put on hold until he implements the Fiscal Responsibility Act. It is a legislative tool we can employ.”
Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the plenary, referred the matter to the House Committee on Legislative Compliance for further action.
As at December 31, 2011, Nigeria’s external debt stood at $5.7 billion, from $4.5 billion in 2010 and $ 3.9 billion in 2009, according to the Debt Management Office, DMO.
A recent request by the president for $8 billion in four years raises Nigeria’s total debt accumulation to $14 billion, a new high since the country exited the Paris Club debt in 2004.