There are strong indications of uncertainty and dissent over the 2016 Budget estimates approved by the National Assembly last Thursday as President Muhammadu Buhari may not be signing the Appropriation Bill into law any time soon following the senate’s refusal to send details of the budget to his office.
Consequently, the refusal of the president to sign the appropriation bill will further delay the implementation of a budget the government hopes will deliver Nigeria out of its present economic crisis.
A senior official to the presidency on Tuesday said Buhari could not sign the budget because the senate sent only highlights of the budget and then kept the details in their custody.
According to the source, the president who had been anxious to give assent to the Bill and commence implementation became reluctant as he was concerned that signing the budget without details may give approval to an un-implementable spending plan.
“The president has not been able to sign the Bill into law because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly made to the proposal sent to them last December,” the official said.
The source, who yearned for anonymity, said the delay in transmitting the details could mean that the National Assembly either did not complete work on the budget, or were “playing politics” with the passage of the document.
The source also said the president was disappointed that his desire to see the immediate implementation of the provisions to ease the tension in the economy and polity would have to tarry a little longer till when the details were transmitted to him and the adjustments are found to be implementable.
The harmonised N6.06 trillion budget was finally passed by both chambers of the National Assembly last Wednesday after weeks of bickering over controversial allocations in the N6.08 trillion proposal submitted by Mr. Buhari on December 22, 2015.
Reacting to this, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, said the bill was at the moment going through a process.
He said: “There is nothing like the President refusing assent to the Appropriation Bill. We worked closely with the executive in passing the bill. We are aware it is going through the normal process before the President assents.
“If anybody tells you that the President refuses to assent, let the person tell you the reason. The Appropriation Bill is already with the Executive with full details.”