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Jonathan averts constitutional crises, signs 2013 budget

By The Citizen
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Ending several months of wrangling between the Executive and the Legislature over the 2013 Appropriation Bill, President Goodluck Jonathan finally on Tuesday evening signed the Bill into law without the usual public ceremony.

A statement by the Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said President Jonathan signed the bill into law 'following consultations and an agreement between the Executive and the Legislature.'

Abati said the consultations on the appropriation bill had been in the best interest of the country.

And based on the understanding reached between the Executive and the Legislature, the National Assembly will exercise further 'legislative action' on the budget 'to ensure effective and smooth implementation of the 2013 Appropriation Act in all aspects.'

'Following consultations and an agreement between the Executive and the Legislature on the 2013 Appropriation Bill, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan today signed the bill into law. President Jonathan wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that the consultations have been in the best interest of the country, and in pursuit of understanding and mutual co-operation between both arms of government.

'As part of the understanding reached with its leadership, the observations of the executive arm of government about the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly will be further considered by the National Assembly through legislative action, to ensure effective and smooth implementation of the 2013 Appropriation Act in all aspects.

'The administration remains fully committed to the positive transformation of the country, and effective and efficient service delivery for the benefit of all citizens. All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government have therefore been directed to work very hard to ensure that all the services, projects and programmes contained in the budget are successfully delivered on schedule in spite of the slight delay in its enactment, ' Abati said.

Before the signing at a closed-door ceremony in his office conference room, President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, House Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Presidential Adviser on National Assembly, Joy Emordi, all met at the President's office before arriving at the conference room venue of the signing ceremony.

But instead of the usual public ceremony, journalists were shepherded out from the President's office area to the press briefing room by the Council Chambers. They were told to wait for a press statement from Abati.

About 20 minutes later, they started to leave. President Jonathan left. Director of Budget, Dr. Bright Okogwu, was one of the first to leave after that. Then, Mark, Tambuwal followed.  Okonjo-Iweala was the last to leave.

They all kept mum as they walked to their vehicles and left.