President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to scrutinise the 2016 budget as passed and transmitted to him by the National Assembly has been accepted by the leadership of the House of Representatives.
Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Media, Abdulrazak Namdas, in an interview, yesterday said that the lower House had no problems with the president taking another look at the budget.
“There shouldn’t be a problem with the president looking at the budget line by line. Our duty in the National Assembly is to work on the budget and to send the document as passed. We have also promised to send the president the details of the budget in two weeks and this we shall do”, Namdas said.
The House of Representatives passed the 2016 budget of N6.06trillion into law following a motion by the Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Buhari had said in Washington last Thursday that he would not sign the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law until he took a look at every single detail of the document passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday, March 23.
The president had presented the 2016 national budget before a joint session of the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, on December 22, 2015.
Soon after, it was dogged by allegations and counter-allegations, including claims that it was missing or padded. The president’s statement that he would scrutinise the budget came as a surprise. This was because the National Assembly which had severally dismissed claims that it would pad the budget, also stated that for the first time, it reduced the total sum of the budget by N17 billion.
This was even as it told the press that it did not tinker with parts of the budget considered to be top priority to the president. Speaking with National Assembly correspondents immediately after
the passage of the budget, the Joint Committee on Appropriations said it was the first time since 1999 the country was witnessing a reduction in aggregate expenditure.
Jubrin, who first spoke on behalf of the committee, said though the budget estimates were huge, contrary to widely held belief that the National Assembly would add to it N17 billion was reduced from the initial estimates.
“We all know the challenges that accompanied this bill and often times, with overheads being most contentious. We engaged the executive and the Budget Office on it because we also discovered that
several critical items were not in the budget. We had to allocate funds to those areas.
“We also had to tilt some allocations in favour of security, anti corruption drive in order to strike a balance with the policy thrust of the government,” he said.