According to the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, “there is nothing abnormal” for the president to assent to the bill before receiving its details.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jibrin stated that, “We wish to make the some clarifications, following media reports suggesting that withholding of assent to the 2016 appropriation bill by the presidency is due to the failure of the national assembly to send the budget details to the presidency alongside the appropriation bill”.
The statement further reads: “We wish to make the some clarifications, following media reports suggesting that withholding of assent to the 2016 appropriation bill by the presidency is due to the failure of the national assembly to send the budget details to the presidency alongside the appropriation bill,” Jibrin said.
“Ordinarily, the national assembly should not have responded to the issues raised, but we are duty-bound to put the issues into perspective and put records straights even though we doubt very much if the presidency will issue such statement knowing full well the challenges the budget has faced so far.
“The general public should note that the MTEF and 2016 budget proposal came to NASS very late. You will also recall that a lot of dust was raised over different versions of the budget circulated in the national assembly. Further, some ministers disowned the content of the budget during defence before NASS.
“Amid these inconsistencies and discrepancies, the NASS had been deeply engrossed in perfecting the anomalies, ironing out of the wrinkles and stretching the twists inherent in the 2016 appropriation bill.
“In order for the nation to move forward and avoid stagnation of administrative processes, the tradition is that the bill is passed and forwarded to the presidency for assent, while the lawmakers continue to work on the details. There is nothing abnormal about this practice and yet nothing abnormal about a president assenting a budget before or after seeing the details. In any case, the budget details are usually sent within a week or two after passing the budget.
“In view of the inconsistencies, errors, omissions and padding that characterised the 2016 budget, it would be unpatriotic of NASS to forward the budget details without being extra-careful, meticulous and cautious in discharging its duties. This is to ensure we do not make same mistake that the executive made.
“The 2016 budget is the most challenging budget the NASS has ever passed in its recent history. Taking into account the many controversies and omissions, particularly in NYSC, prisons, pensions, personnel shortfalls, among others, the budget failed in many respects to connect with the policy thrust of the government.
“The NASS appropriation committees worked round the clock to address some of the omissions, bring up to date allocations in the budget towards the policy direction of Mr. President, particularly issues relating to security, anti-corruption and economic diversification.
“Given the foregoing efforts, it is therefore unfair for accusing fingers to be pointed at NASS when the presidency defers or delays assent to the budget. Nowhere in the world that a budget is presented to the parliament, and expect it to be passed warts and all without subjecting it to the rigors of scrutiny, debate and painstaking processes and inputs of the parliament.