It was gathered that the House of Representatives said on Sunday that no law had been breached so far in the delayed signing of the 2017 budget by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Its spokesman, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, said in Abuja that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gave the President a 30-day period of grace to either reject or assent to a bill passed by the National Assembly.
Recall that the National Assembly had passed the budget on May 11.
About six days after the passing of the budget, the 2017 Appropriation Bill was transmitted to the Presidency for the much-awaited presidential signature.
But, almost 20 days after, the presidential assent has yet to be appended to the money bill.
Only on Saturday, the Presidency had said that the details of the budget were still being studied.
It also denied, through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, that Osinbajo was not ready to assent to the budget.
However, on Sunday, Namdas said so long as the 30 days had not lapsed, the acting President was covered.
He added that in the circumstance, the National Assembly could not ask questions or take further actions until after 30 days.
Namdas said, “As the National Assembly, we have passed the budget and we also ensured that it was transmitted to the Presidency.
“Our role stopped there because the issue of assent does not fall within our jurisdiction.
“Of course, there is nothing to say really because the constitution even provides that the President has to either sign or communicate his objections to the National Assembly within 30 days of the receipt of the bill.
“The budget has yet to spend 30 days since it was passed. So, there is nothing the National Assembly can do for now.
“I believe the budget will be signed within the period covered by our constitution.”
The National Assembly had passed a total of N7.441tn as the national budget on May 11. The figure was jacked up by over N143bn above President Muhammadu Buhari’s original N7.298tn.
The President had forwarded his estimates to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016.
The additional N143bn was spread across key federal road projects, the presidential amnesty programme, the National Assembly, among other sub-heads.
For instance, federal roads got additional N25bn.
Both the amnesty programme and the National Assembly got additional N10billion.
This shot up the budget of the National Assembly to N125bn from the N115bn it got in 2016, while the amnesty programme’ budget rose to N75bn from the N65bn proposed by Buhari.
The reconstruction of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport gulped N5.8bn; the additional personnel cost of 18 agencies got N5.1bn; subscription to Shelter Afrique received N3.6bn; the National Identity Management Commission got N5bn; and the backlog of corps member’s allowances got N13bn.
The total recurrent expenditure was raised to N2.987tn from the initial presidential N2.979tn; and the capital vote from N2.058tn to N2.177tn.
Debt servicing provision was passed at N1.841tn.
The budget’s fiscal deficit was passed at N2.356tn.
The crude oil benchmark was increased to $44.5 per barrel from the initial $42.5, but the daily oil production was retained at 2.2m barrels.
The naira/dollar exchange rate was also retained at N305.
The ministerial allocations indicated that the Ministry of Power, Works/Housing got N586.534bn, up from the initial proposal of N529bn. The new figure was broken into N553.713bn for capital expenditure and N32.821bn for recurrent expenditure.
The Ministry of Interior received N471.597bn as recurrent expenditure and another N63.760bn for capital expenditure.
The Ministry of Education received N398.686bn for recurrent expenditure and another N56.720bn as capital vote.
Ministry of Defence got N330bn for recurrent expenditure and another N139.294bn for capital vote.
The sum of N241.709bn went to the Ministry of Transportation for its capital expenditure and N14.810bn for capital spending.
The Ministry of Petroleum Resources received N63.222bn for its recurrent expenditure and another N6.793bn for capital vote.