By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
Unimpressed with the alterations made in the 2022 Appropriation Bill, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the bill of N17.126trillion into law. The budget was presented to him by his Senior Special Assistant (Senate) on National Assembly, Sen. Babajide Omoworare, at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Persecondnews.com reports.
Buhari expressed displeasure with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects without justification.
Persecondnews had reported that both chambers of the National Assembly had upped the budget from the N16.391 trillion presented by the President to N17.12trillion.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had approved an increased benchmark for crude from $57 to $62 per barrel from which a proposed increase in revenue is expected.
They also made provision for an increase by N400 billion for agencies with financial reports which were not captured in the proposed budget.
The agencies includes INEC, Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, the National Assembly among others.
The President highlighted some of the worrisome changes in the budget to include an increase in projected Federal Government independent revenue by N400 billion, reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion, and reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively.
He further expressed his reservations on the inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote, which according to him, negated the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the legislative arm of government.
Buhari also expressed concern over the changes to the original Executive proposal in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects, as well as the introduction of 6,576 new projects into the budget.
According to him, most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of state and local governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualized, designed, and cost.
Buhari said he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for an amendment as soon as the lawmakers return from their recess to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to his administration do not suffer a setback as a result of reduced funding.
He insisted that the cuts by the lawmakers could render the implementation of the budget difficult.
In his response, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, said the lawmakers were “right in their decisions”, adding that “the reservations of the Executive are not unusual and may not necessarily coincide with that of the legislature.”