Leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday affirmed that it would require about two weeks to conclude work on the details of the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget.
Breakdown of the budget summary sent to President Muhammadu Buhari last week through the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, showed that N351.370 trillion was for statutory transfers, N2,646,389,236,196 was for recurrent (non-debt), while N1,587,598,122,031 was for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure.
While reacting to media report credited to unnamed source from the Presidency, Abdulmumin Jibrin, chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, who admitted that details of the budget was not sent, however, warned that nobody should cast stone at the National Assembly knowing fully the crisis that trailed the budget presented by Mr. President.
Jibrin said: “We have passed the budget and at the moment we are working on the details. There is nothing that has happened so far that is abnormal, and also just as you have read it on pages of newspapers and of course I have also read such insinuations including the ones that we all read today, which they alleged that it was an information from a top official of the Presidency.
“Let me put it straight and clear that I doubt that if such a statement could come from the Presidency, knowing fully that the challenges that we went through during the budgeting process.
“We in the National Assembly believe the most difficult budget we have ever dealt with, because you all recall that the MTEF came very late, but we accepted it but we dealt with it.
“Even while we were dealing with all such realities, multiple budget details came up and we were able to manage the situation in a very friendly manner with the executive arm of government. Of course, they took responsibility for that, even while that was going again, during the budget defence by standing committees of the House a lot of members of the executive arm of government came to the National Assembly and disowned the details in their various budget lines.
“When all these things have taken place we would all agree that it will be very difficult for anybody to sit and start throwing stone at the National Assembly. We have been working day and night, we are doing our best, and we have been very generous to the executive arm of government.
“With all these series of challenges in the course of working on the budget, I doubt very much that the executive arm of government or Presidency, knowing fully what has transpired in the last few months, will be throwing stones at the National Assembly.”
In a related development, chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Danjuma Goje, failed to respond to inquiries on the fresh crisis trailing Mr. President’s declination from assenting to the 2016 budget passed by both chambers on Wednesday, March 23.
Jibrin, who dismissed insinuation that National Assembly was playing politics with the budget over the ongoing trial of Senate president, Bukola Saraki, argued that former Presidents including Olusegun Obasanjo assented to budget summary while late President Umaru Yar’Adua insisted on seeing the budget details before assenting to it.
“As I have mentioned earlier that there is nothing abnormal, it’s a normal practise for the National Assembly to send the Appropriation bill estimates to the President. It is also nothing normal for the President not to assent to it before seeing the details or after seeing the details.
“We have instances of President Obasanjo signing the budget without the details, we came to Yar’Adua who always preferred to see the details.
“So, if President Muhammadu Buhari prefers to see the details before assenting to the bill, I don’t think we should make a big deal out of it. It’s absolutely normal.”
Meanwhile, members of the Senate Appropriation Committee have commenced meeting with a view to producing a clean copy and sending same to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
This comes as the Chairman, Appropriations Committee, Danjuma Goje, shunned journalists who approached him after a meeting with some members of the committee.
Goje, who was expressed frustration at the presence of journalists in his office at the new Senate building, reprimanded his aides in the presence of journalists who approached him to get his comments on what is causing the delay in transmitting the details of the budget to the Presidency.
Others at the meeting include the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji as well as the only principal officer in the panel and Deputy Minority Whip, Francis Alimikhena.
But other members absent at the meeting include Barau Jibrin, Adamu Aliero, Aliyi Sabi, Rafiu Ibrahim, Solomon Adeola, Buhari Abdulfatai, Abdullahi Danbaba, Mao Ohuabunwa, Albert Bassey, Matthew Urhoghide and Mohammed Hassan.