A federal lawmaker has said the Presidency has passed a new copy of 2016 budget proposal to the National Assembly(NASS) for consideration, Daily Trust reports. According to the source, a soft copy of the budget was sent to the two chambers of the National Assembly around 4.30pm last Thursday ahead of the commencement of debate on the 2016 budget proposal by the National Assembly. Hard copies of the budget are expected to be produced and circulated to the lawmakers on Tuesday for the commencement of the debate.
Recall the Senate had at the end of a closed-door session last week insisted that only the budget laid before the joint session of the two chambers by President Buhari would be considered. Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust on Sunday on the whole 2016 budget saga, a principal officer (name withheld) said the budget that President Buhari laid on December 22, last year was the wrong copy.
In his words, “You know Buhari swore in his ministers very late, so when they got to their ministries, they didn’t have enough time to look into the budget. So when the National Assembly reminded the Presidency that there was an urgent need to present the budget in order to meet the constitutional requirement, they said they will present it on the 18th, but later they came and told us that they were not ready, apparently because they were yet to finish works on the budget document.
“They now fixed 22nd of last month, but the budget was not ready at that time again. So, they packaged something for the president to present, since the date had been fixed. They withheld the soft copy because they knew it would be at variance with the one they were preparing. So when we were about to resume, they brought a new one and produced over 500 copies for the Senate and the House of Reps, but the problem is how to retrieve the copy laid by the president because there are significant differences in the two.”
“Meanwhile, we already fixed last Tuesday for the commencement of the consideration of budget but when we asked the clerk to bring the copy, he couldn’t and that was how the issue of missing budget came up. Now they are in trouble as there is nothing to produce copies for the senators to debate upon. They wanted to play a fast one but it didn’t work. When Dogara Yakubu came up and said he has the original copies, he didn’t know what was happening. The copies displayed at the House of Representatives were the reproduction of the new version. If they had distributed it, they would have been in serious trouble”.
On how they noticed differences in the new version, the lawmaker said, ‘’When we crosschecked what was made available to us on resumption and the one laid by the President, we discovered that there were sharp differences in what was allocated to the Presidency. What was made available in the new one is lower when compared to what we have in the old one, especially feeding. The allocation of feeding of Mr. President and the vice president was by far higher than what Jonathan and Namadi spent. You know because of the analysis by a national daily, we put more attention on it. The feeding money has been increased. They now realized the mistake. It was in an attempt to correct the mistake that they ran into trouble. If they had taken the National Assembly in confidence, they would have stylishly done that without anybody knowing..”