Indications have emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly have resolved the grey areas in the 2016 budget, a development that may lead to its assent by the president any time from today.
LEADERSHIP last night reliably gathered that the lawmakers sent the document containing the grey areas identified by the presidency to Buhari in the early hours of yesterday, but that it was swiftly returned to the National Assembly by noon for modification due to certain issues the president was not comfortable with.
However, in order to fast-track its passage, principal officers and members of the review committee from both legislative chambers later met between 3:20pm and 5:30pm in the Senate Wing of the National Assembly to reconsider the observations made by the president on the budget.
According to a source at the National Assembly, “The budget got to the State House at about 1:10am and Mr President went through it early this morning and still had some issues with some of the figures. I cannot tell you exactly what it was but I think the insertions made by the lawmakers were not significantly altered.
“You know, the lawmakers had moved some allocations for key projects that are dear to the president to other areas, especially to their constituency projects. Of course, they have changed some but I believe Mr President is not satisfied with the reconciliation they made. I think this is one of the reasons why it was returned.”
He expressed hope that the president would assent to the budget today provided the lawmakers were able to make all the necessary corrections and transmit the document to him last night.
“I can assure you Mr President is desirous of signing the budget because he is aware and has acknowledged that Nigerians are going through hardship. He is also concerned, so if the budget is cleaned up this night and sent to him, he will sign it as soon as possible. That I know very well”.
It was also gathered that some lawmakers were ready to work all through the night in case Buhari returned the money bill to the National Assembly for any other correction.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on Monday stated that the 2016 budget would be passed into law this week, and that implementation would follow immediately.
Osinbajo made the disclosure in his address at a programme sponsored by Covenant Christian Centre, the Platform, held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
He stated that that once the budget is assented to by President Buhari, government would immediately go to work and complete power projects that were not completed by the immediate past administration.
“The budget will become operational in the next few days,” he said.
The vice president, however, noted that the passage of the budget would only happen if there were no other unforeseen incidents.
Speaking further at the occasion, Osinbajo noted that the federal government was not unaware of the nation’s challenges, but said the youths must believe that the problems facing the nation in the area of power, availability of petroleum products, infrastructure and agriculture are surmountable and resolvable.
He also reiterated the determination of the federal government to leverage technology under a number of initiatives intended to create the enabling environment that would stimulate youth entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The key to change and our future prosperity lies in innovation and this is critical to our development,” he said.
The vice president disclosed plans by the government to give attention to technology and innovation, disclosing that the government would be establishing an Innovation Fund this year to enable the youths have access to funds for innovation and entrepreneurship.