President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to accent and sign the 2016 national budget into law as more revelations regarding amendment of the bill by the Senate was revealed. According to sources within the presidency, President Buhari was furious over alleged removal of key development projects from the initial budget submitted.
According to our sources, aside from the Calabar –Lagos Railway Project, the National Assembly likewise removed key national infrastructural projects and also cut votes allocated to same. The National Assembly slashed capital votes billed for constructing the second Niger Bridge. The vote was slashed by 3.9 billion naira. Others include Lagos-Ibadan Highway (slashed by N24 billion), Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road (slashed by N4.3 billion), Benin-Shagamu Road (slashed by N800 million), Itakpe-Warri Signaling Project (slashed by N302.9 million).
In the light of the ongoing budget passage brouhaha, the Buhari led administration has said it would seek legal preferences for a distinct clarification of the role of the National Assembly in passing the nation’s budget.
The APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Prince Hilliard Eta, made the party’s position known to journalists. According to the statement, “The arbitrary removal of the Lagos – Calabar rail track by the National Assembly from the 2016 budget is a display of depraved indifference to the welfare of Nigerians. The deletion is not just arbitrary; it is a big disservice to the people of Nigeria, particularly the South-South zone which the proposed railway track would have traversed.
“Also, the total rehabilitation of the collapsed and terrible Calabar – Odukpani –Itu – Ikot Ekpene federal highway which was allotted N6bn by the federal government in the budget was doctored and almost N5bn removed and re-allocated to a non-existent project in the constituency of the Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, in Kano state. By these two acts, the Senate and House of Representatives displayed the astonishing contempt in which they hold Nigerians. The National Assembly exists to ensure that Nigerians get the best from their government using the instrument of purposeful legislation but the 8th Assembly by this budget padding debacle has not only brought itself to ridicule, it has also proved itself unworthy of the trust and confidence of Nigerians.
“We shall approach the courts of the land for a clear interpretation of the role of the National Assembly in the passing of the National Budget as it is evident that it overstepped its bounds by unnecessarily tinkering with the budget when its constitutional duty is mainly supervisory.”