Reports making the rounds has claimed that President Buhari has sent an economic stabilisation bill to the National Assembly. The bill will effectively allow President Buhari wield wider powers in an ‘economic emergency’ and bypass the National assembly in budgetary decisions and government spending.
The Vice President in a statement yesterday insisted that the bill has not yet been sent to the National Assembly and is merely in the works.
Stakeholders from diverse sectors of the economy including the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), telecommunications, academia and agriculture have thrown their support behind the bill.
However, some of the stakeholders spoke of the need to guard against abuse as granting the President a blank check may be counter-productive.
Through its President, Ayuba Wabba, the NLC said that the organised labour is in full support of the proposal coming from President Buhari.
According to him, the workers’ umbrella body has seen areas where the President needs to take such action, pointing out that the executive requires such an executive power for the implementation of the budget.
He said: “As we all know that economy is in a recession now, the government needs to do anything that will quickly get us out of it. d.
On the stand of some federal lawmakers to shoot down the Bill at the National Assembly, Wabba said “the President is not somebody that misuses power,” urging that “the President should be allowed to have his way.
To the General President of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, there is the need for the President to come out with more details on the request. He urged the President to come up with an economic blue print, adding that such power is within the President’s reach.
Ajaero said: “We want the President to articulate economic policies that will take us out of this recession. It is then we can say our view.”
Also commenting, President of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, said the President should be granted emergency power to deal with the economic crisis facing the country.
According to him, the economy needs a push to enhance Nigerians living standard, which he noted has fallen below average.
A Criminology teacher in the Sociology Department, Imo State University, Owerri, Dr. Dan Nkwocha, also threw his weight behind President Buhari’s proposal to seek emergency powers to stimulate the economy.
Describing the proposal as “a welcome development,” he said in view of the urgent need to halt the recession foisted on the economy and Nigerians by the crash in oil prices at the international market, the National Assembly should accede to the request in public interest.
The varsity don said: “Desperate situations require desperate measures. So, members of the National Assembly should be patriotic enough to grant the President the emergency powers to navigate the economy out of its current recession.
“Everybody knows that there is fire on the mountain and this requires urgent measures to stem the economic tide. I, therefore, appeal to the National Assembly to grant him the approval so that the economy can come out of the woods.”
The criminologist added that the President has made it clear that the emergency powers would be for a period of only 12 months.
A former Executive Director, Keystone Bank Limited, Richard Obire, said that Nigeria need speed to fix its challenging economy, urging the President against abusing the emergency power if granted.
Obire recalled that former President Shehu Shagari sought and secured similar power, although his administration was cut short military intervention.
He said: “During the Shagari era, the economy was in dire straits. He sought and secured the power to deal with the issues challenging the economy at that time. He tried to use the emergency power before the government was toppled.”
But Obire believes that unlike in the 1980s, the world today is better advanced with thoughts better articulated.
A former President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi, said the President’s decision to seek emergency powers to fix the economy underscored his genuine determination to bring succour to the populace.
He, however, warned that granting excessive powers to the president might be dangerous on the long run, arguing that within the ambit of the Nigerian Constitution, the President has enormous powers which he could evoke to do whatever needed to be done to get the economy running.
According to him, the President’s intention might be good but it might be abused if not checked.
The President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo said the President does not need any further powers to get the economy running.
According to him, “the law allows him ample room to use his enormous powers as the chief executive of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to manage the economy.”
Ogunbanjo urged the President to raise a team of experts that would advise him on monetary and fiscal policies that will help the economy back on stream, warning that granting the president emergency powers will lead to arbitrary use of powers, adding that the obnoxious Communications Service Tax Bill seeking a nine per cent tax on communications services in the country may be introduced by fiat.
He said such a tax will be overkill for consumers and operators who are already reeling under a myriad of challenges including multiple taxation and dearth of infrastructure among others.