President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received the final copy of the 2016 appropriation bill from the National Assembly.
Yussuff Lasun, deputy speaker, House of Representatives, handed over the 2,232-page budget to the special advisers to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang and Suleiman Kawu at the National Assembly complex at about 1:30pm for onward transmission to President Buhari.
The President it was gathered may sign the document today, before proceeding to Katsina for an investment summit.
A Presidency official told our correspondent that the “President received the document on Thursday afternoon and may sign it tomorrow (today).” The President had earlier returned the document over inconsistencies in the transmitted details of the budget. He had subsequently met with the leadership of the National Assembly and proceeded to set up a committee consisting of both the executive and the legislature to clean up the grey areas in the document.
Minister of state for budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, had also while briefing journalists on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said the review of the document was at its last stage, “so maybe between today and tomorrow National Assembly will start the process of transmitting the details to the President.”
The presentation of the budget, which was done behind closed door, was also witnessed by Bimbo Daramola, chief of staff to the deputy speaker; Ibrahim Babangida, chairman, House Committee on Finance, and Abdulmumin Jibrin, chairman, House Committee on Appropriations.
It was gathered that the deputy speaker who led the National Assembly delegation of the 15-member Committee, slept at about 5am on Thursday, according to one of his aides.
The just concluded amendment was after several months of blame trading between President Buhari’s cabinet and members of the National Assembly, over allegation and counter-accusation of padding that trailed the 2016 Appropriations Bill.
The public presentation of the amended budget, which was initially scheduled for media coverage, was cancelled following criticism from a cross section of lawmakers.
Findings revealed that the controversial budget was returned three times by the Presidency.
The House Spokesman had last week Thursday assured that various knotty issues on the padding including the excess of N40 billion provided for constituency projects of the principal officer of both Senate and House have been removed in line with Presidency’s request.
The 2016 Appropriations bill was the most controversial bill in the history of Nigeria.
Speaking on the whereabouts of the budget, Jonathan Gaza, deputy chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, who argued that there’s seamless relationship between the Executive and Legislature, assured that the budget will be signed into law in the very near future.
He said: “a Committee was set up, it was in the papers and was headed by the deputy Speaker, members from the Senate as well from the Executive arm to look at the budget and I believe the budget has been transmitted or rather the resolution has been submitted to the President.
“I am quite optimistic and enjoin all other Nigerians including yourself to be as optimistic as me that in the very neat future this budget will be signed into law.”
Gaza who warned the Media to be careful with the choice of words when asked about the whereabouts of the budget, said: “we have to be quite careful about choice of words. Over time there’s been differences and both arms of government have sat down to look at what those issues are.
“Most importantly what we want is to see our country and economy moving forward. To this end, just as I’ve earlier said, and I want to reiterate, both sides of the divide are working hard and the budget before long is going to be signed into law, thank you very much.”