According to reports, the Presidency said yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari was fully ready to present the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly, adding that he was only waiting for the legislative arm of government to give him a date for the presentation.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President (National Assembly Matters), Ita Enang, said that the process for the presentation of the budget by the president had started, adding that before that is done, the President would have to send a communication to the legislators and have a dinner or breakfast with the leadership of the National Assembly.
Enang said that President Buhari might likely present the budget next week after consultations with the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
However, one of the principal officials of the National Assembly said that although the Federal Executive Council had approved the 2018 Budget proposal submitted by the Budget and National Planning Ministry on Thursday, the proposal might not be submitted to the National Assembly until next week owing to the minor face-off between security agencies at the State House and principal officers of the National Assembly on Thursday night.
The officers were at the State House on a dinner invitation by the President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the submission of the budget, which was initially slated for Tuesday October 31, but security details at the State House security gate insisted that they must be screened; but the legislators protested against being subjected to the security screening and were turned back.
Presidency officials, who regretted the incident, said it was due to a breakdown in communication, which was purely avoidable. When word got to President Buhari on the incident, he immediately reached across to both the Senate President and House Speaker and apologised to them, requesting that they should come back to the villa.
“By this time, only the Senate President and the House Speaker were available as other legislators had dispersed. The two subsequently joined the President at a private dinner, while the main dinner was rescheduled for next Tuesday night,’’ said the source.
He said that when the idea of the President presenting the budget proposals to the National Assembly next week was mooted at the private dinner, the Presidency was advised to do that after the engagement with principal officers, “otherwise, the proposal might get a hostile reception by members following the incident.”