Buhari Reveals How He Resisted Earlier Pressure To Sign 2016 Budget Earlier
BEVERLY HILLS, May 09, (THEWILL) – President Muhammadu Buhari has explained circumstances surrounding the delay in signing the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law, revealing that he had turned down the request by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, for him to sign the budget because “there were issues”.
Speaking during a radio programme at the weekend in his home state of Katsina, the President assured Nigerians that his administration will effectively make use of available resources to turn around the fortunes of the country.
Buhari said; “We will do our best to fix the country. When the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, asked me to sign the budget weeks ago and there were issues, I told him I won't. But when he insisted, I told him if I assented to it and anything happened, he would be held responsible.
“He accepted and left. But when he had a second thought, he ran back to me and agreed with me that we shouldn't sign it. It was at that point I heard of padding. The committees of the National Assembly removed our projects and replaced it with theirs.
“That's was why we had three weeks to look at it. When he returned to me again, Udoma told me that most of the projects the National Assembly included had been removed but that we can go with the remaining ones since I must approve money before funds would be released for the execution of projects.”
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang has stated that the 2016 Appropriation Act signed into law on Friday by his principal will run until May 2017.
Disclosing this to newsmen in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, on Sunday, Enang said: “The Act provides that the budget takes effects from the date assented to by the president, and run a full course of 12 months.
“So, as the president assented to this budget on the 6th of May, 2016, this budget will last and expire on 6th of May 2017. This is an ingenious introduction by the National Assembly to ensure that there is full implementation of the budget.”
The former lawmaker, who once chaired the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, thanked Nigerians for their patience during the budget crisis, and praised the National Assembly for demonstrating bi-partisanship during the controversy that trailed the exclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail project from the budget.
“I want to thank the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, and members of the PDP in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. They were bi-partisan, and they worked like one Nigeria,” he said.
Enang said apart from the Lagos-Calabar rail project, there was another big project in the budget for residents of Cross River and Akwa Ibom. This, he said, was the proposed construction of a dual carriage-way along Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene Highway which links the two South-South states together.
“I would want to call it the legacy project,” the presidential aide said, adding that N6 billion has been provided for the take off of the road project in the 2016 budget.
“The road will ease the suffering of the people,” he said.
The presidential aide also told the journalists that the president has not introduced any grazing reserve bill to the National Assembly, explaining that a similar bill was introduced as a private member bill in the last Senate when he was a member.
“My contribution to the debate then, which could be found in the hansard of the senate, was that the question of grazing was for each state.
“It is not something the federal government can regulate in each of the states. It is only the house of assembly of each state that can regulate it.”
While identifying the personal lessons he learnt during the budget crisis to include speaking less, and working more, the former senator said: “Two, explain to your boss, your employer, and the people who are expecting results from you, how difficult it was to attain and bring a result, and not why result was not brought.
“The experience is that, no matter how hard a thing is, work through it, and when your wit seems to be running out, pray, and work harder.”