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2013 budget: Jonathan, N'Assembly leadership meeting deadlocked

By The Citizen
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A top presidency source has revealed that the meeting between the executive and leadership of the National Assembly on Tuesday night on the 2013 budget was deadlocked. The source said the crisis over the budget was political not economic and that President Goodluck Jonathan would not willingly walk into a pit dug for him should he sign the budget. According to the source: 'The stalemate is not because they (National Assembly members) are right but they don't know how to back down on the budget which they have messed up. 'We cannot allow some of their proposals, which are suicidal, to go through.

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, told State House correspondents that though he was not at the meeting the President held with the leaders of the National Assembly, the position of government had not shifted from the one as articulated previously by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that there were grey areas in the documents being discussed by the executive and the legislature. Abati stated that once these grey areas were clarified, the budget would go to the next stage.

'There is really no problem although I see that in many of the reports, some are trying to insinuate whether there is conflict or whether there is a problem. 'When two arms of government are involved in something that is strategic as that, you can be sure that there will be need for clarification, there will be need for further consultation to ensure that the overriding objective is met. 'What is that overriding objective? It is in the best interest of Nigerians to ensure that what comes out is the budget that serves their interest. So this is not about conflict or territorial conflict. It's all about making sure that the best is done in the interest or Nigerians.

' Okonjo-Iweala had denied media reports stating that President Goodluck Jonathan was likely to sign the 2013 budget into law this week. She had said in a statement , 'whereas discussions between the Executive and the National Assembly are ongoing in a cordial atmosphere, it is not yet clear when they will be concluded as much work remains to be done. 'Against this background, reports stating that the President will sign the budget this week are therefore not realistic.' A local newspaper had reportedly quoted Mrs Okonjo Iweala as saying: 'We are working very well on the budget and we hope that within a week, we would be able to come to some kind of agreement. But I can't say exactly. 'What we are finding now is that there are some grey or problematic areas that we need to iron out between us for us to have a budget that is in the interest of the Nigerian people and that can be implemented and both sides would be satisfied.

' On the kidnapping in Cameroun of French nationals by group suspected to be Boko Haram, Abati said, 'we need to check for details with the security agencies because it is a security matter. 'But what I can tell you clearly is that Nigeria remains committed to collaborating with all stakeholders and all partners in confronting the scourge of terrorism. 'What has been proven is that terrorism is not localised, it is an international challenge and this is clearly what the situation in Mali proves.

'That every country has a stake in ensuring that the world is secured, that the objective of peace is achieved and that particularly in the West African subregion, that peace is guaranteed for the benefit of all the people within the region and beyond, hence, we are in Mali, hence, Nigeria is continuously working with other stakeholders within the region and also with international partners to make sure that the security of lives and property is guaranteed.' (The Sun)