Powers of the Executive and Legislature in Budget Making Process in Nigeria: An Overview

Ambrose Onyisi Ekpu, Patrick Ikechukwu Iweoha


Friction between the executive and legislative arms of the government is a common phenomenon in modern democracies the world over. Because of its attendant consequences, the budget process is often a cause of significant friction between the legislature and executive arms. In Nigeria, the issue that calls for determination has been the extent of powers of the legislature in matters of budget formulation and approval. For years, this dispute has remained unabated and none of the parties has summoned the courage to approach the courts for its interpretation. This controversy, once again, has been in the front burner, resulting in inordinate delay in the passage of the 2016 nation’s Budget. The executive arm of the government is vehement in objecting to any amendments, modifications and alterations made to the annual budgetary estimates prepared by the executive and placed before the National Assembly as it affects various ministries and government departments. In other words, it is their take that the function of the legislative arm is simply to ‘rubber stamp’ the budget estimates. Politicians, legislators and lawyers are divided on this issue. This paper examines the powers and functions of both arms of government but more especially the legislature on Appropriation Bills. We examined a critical aspect of the controversy that surrounded the delay in the passage of the 2016 Budget because of the importance it has for future budgetary processes. We argue in this article that in the interest of allowing inputs of trade unions, NGOs and other stakeholders through the opportunities provided by Public Hearings, it is in the larger public interest to sustain the operation of the current legal framework which supports, in our humble opinion, the power of the National Assembly to alter the budgetary estimates submitted by the executive, either marginally or fundamentally, as the National Assembly may deem fit.  We support our argument with an overview of international practices, which vary, depending only on constitutional or legal provisions in individual countries. A brief discussion on the relationship which exists in both arms of government, the causes and effect of frictions between them are also considered.

Keywords: conflicts, executive arm, legislative arm, powers, budgetary estimates, appropriation bills.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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