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Despite N48b Insert by NASS, Jonathan Signs 2012 Budget into Law

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Despite the insertion of N48 billion into the 2012 Budget by the National Assembly, at exactly 11:35 am on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan formally signed into law a total sum of  N4.877,209,156,933 trillion as the 2012 budget.

The decision by Mr. Jonathan to sign the budget followed the reconciliation of all the grey areas in the financial document by both the executive and the legislature, last week.

The brief ceremony which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was witnessed by the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Representative of Senate President, Mr Eyinaya Abaribe, who is Chairman Senate Committee on Information, Mr Macindo, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Emeka Ihedioha and Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Mike Oghiadomhe.

Others are Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Nigerian Economy Coordinator; Mr Labaran Maku Minister of Information; Mr Shamsudeen Usman, Minister of National Planning; Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, Minister of Petroleum Resources; and Mr Mohammed Adoke, Attorney General of the Federation; Mr Mike Onolememe, Minister of Works; mr Bright Okogu, Director General, Budget Office; Mrs Joy Emordi, Special Adviser on Assembly Matters; among others.

The National Assembly had a few weeks ago passed a budget of N4.877,209,156,933 trillion, as against the N4.749 trillion presented to them by Mr. Jonathan.

The discovery that the National Assembly have tempered with the original benchmark of $70 US dollar per barrel was one of the reasons that delayed presidential assent to the 2012 budget,

The increase in the crude oil benchmark, our investigations revealed may have angered Aso Rock, a development that may have triggered his refusal to assent to the fiscal document since it was transmitted to him a couple of days ago.

President Goodluck Jonathan had, in February sent a budget about N4.7 trillion with a crue benchmark of $70 US dollar per barrel, but not satisfied with this figure, the federal law makers, opted for $72 US dollar benchmark, thereby setting the stage for executive-legislature feud.

The National Assembly had on March 21 passed a budget of N4.877,209,156,933 trillion, as against the N4.749 trillion presented by Mr. Jonathan.

Findings revealed that the N48 billion expected acruer from the adjustment may have been meant to serve unspecified interest of the lawmakers.

Against this backdrop, there are strong indications that Mr. Jonathan may have been advised against appending his all-important signature on the fiscal document to make it law.

On the alleged jackup of the over N100 billion into the various projects of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, the Presidency has distanced the MDAs from the action, as it was in sharp contrast with Mr. Jonathan's directive to the MDAs to steer clear of lobbing lawmakers to raise the figure of their budgetary allocation.

The Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Bright Okogu, said that the executive arm of government was studying the passed budget by the National Assembly, saying that if it is true that the identified disparities do exist, then the budget in its entirety would be returned to the lawmakers for correction, before presidential assent as required by law.

Asked what possible sanction could be metted out to any head of MDAs that is discovered to have bribed or lobbied the lawmakers to jackup their expected budgetary allocations, the Mr Okogu, dismissed such insinuations, saying that "it is not possible that the MDAs may have gone for the increase but what is very likely, is that some lawmakers may have carried out the action themselves for selfish reasons".

Speaking at ceremony, Mr Jonathan said he had security report that some heads of parastatalls lobbied the National to increase their budget, vowing to sack them.

In a remark shortly after the signing the 2012 appropriation bill into law, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr. Jonathan said the security reports indicted some of the heads of the parastals.

The president noted that the idea of people going behind to lobby law makers to increase their budget against laid down procedures is unacceptable and unfortunate.

Meanwhile, piqued by the delay that characterized the passage of the 2012 budget Mr Jonathan has promised that the 2013 Appropriation Bill would be presented to the National Assembly by September 2011.

Consequently, the President has directed his Chief of Staff, Mr Mike Oghiadomhe, to ensure that all MDAs to present and defend their budget, latest by June this year.

Culled From FrontierNews