Buhari fails to sign 2016 budget, jets out to Washington

Buhari fails to sign 2016 budget, jets out to Washington
March 29 16:28 2016

By Idris Ahmed

…Presidency accuses NASS of sabotage

Indications emerged on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari  has no plans to sign the 2016 budget into law as early as Nigerians may be expecting.

The two chambers of the National Assembly had passed the N6.08 trillion budget last week.

Nigerians have therefore been waiting for the transmission of the budget to the Presidency and President Buhari’s subsequent signature.

The Presidency confirmed receiving the budget from the National Assembly on Tuesday but a top source in the State House said only the highlights were sent.

The source added that the failure of the National Assembly to send the budget details  may be an attempt to sabotage the process.

“The President has just received the transmission of the Appropriation Bill (2016 Budget) from the National Assembly and is very anxious to sign it into law, but the National Assembly only sent in the highlights without the details of the budget.

As result, the President has been handicapped in signing the Bill because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly must have made to the proposal sent to them,” the source said.

The source who didn’t want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter said the President would not sign the budget to avoid a situation whereby the details would not be implementable.

“Although he is anxious to sign the document so that implementation of the provisions could start immediately and ease the tension in the economy and polity, he is afraid he may later discover, when the details are sent, the what is contained therein is not implementable.

He wishes the National Assembly could send in the details speedily so that it could be considered for assent.
Ministers are also eager that the budget be signed so they could start implementing their programmes, but they are unable to push the President to sign what has been transmitted because they also do not know what is contained in the details.

They are particularly worried that the year is gradually aging and the provision of the law in respect of spending the previous year’s budget is not helping matters because of the low Capital provision for 2015.

Because of the low provision made last year for capital expenditure, spending 50% of that provision for the first half of this year will make no impact on provision of infrastructure.

The Budget Office cannot also work on the Budget for implementation because it is the details, and not the highlights, that they convert into implementable templates for the respective MDAs,” the source added.

The source also accused the lawmakers of doing a shoddy job or playing politics with the fate of Nigerians.

He said: “This development confirms speculations that the National Assembly either did not complete work on the budget or are playing politics with the documents which affects the life of both the country and its citizens.
The National Assembly may just have passed the bill to pass the buck to the executive and escape the wrath of the public which was gradually suspecting it of sabotage.”

Meanwhile, President Buhari will leave Abuja on Wednesday to join President Barack Obama and about 60 other world leaders and heads of international organisations at the 4th Nuclear Security Summit which opens there on Thursday.

“At plenary sessions of the summit which is dedicated to reinforcing international commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, President Buhari will insist that while Nigeria will continue to sustain that commitment,  world powers must respect the right of other countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for development purposes.

The President will reaffirm Nigeria’s stance that international efforts to ensure greater security of nuclear materials should maintain a balance between nuclear non-proliferation obligations and the indisputable right of Nigeria and other countries to harness nuclear energy and technology for socio-economic development,” a statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina read in part.

It continued: “While in Washington DC for the Nuclear Security Summit, the President and his delegation which includes Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.) and the Director-General of Nigeria’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Prof Lawrence Anikwe Dim, will also   hold bilateral meetings with other participating Heads of Government and high-ranking United States Government officials.”

President Buhari is scheduled to leave Washington on Sunday.