Senator Joy Emodi
By Onwuka Nzeshi
After 25 days of suspense over the fate of the 2013 Appropriation Bill, the National Assembly has finally transmitted it to President Goodluck Jonathan for assent.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had passed the harmonised version of the budget on December 20, 2012, but the lawmakers embarked on the Christmas and New Year holidays shortly after.
It was, however, later discovered that the N4.987 trillion budget could not be transmitted to the presidency immediately because what was passed were broad figures and did not have the comprehensive details.
This revelation created some controversy, as a cross-section of the public had criticised the National Assembly over the manner the budget was passed and urged the lawmakers to complete the process to avoid undue delays in assenting to the budget and its implementation.
However, the transmission of the budget was slightly delayed on Monday as the process was slowed down by the bureaucracy at the National Assembly.
Although the Joint Appropriation Committee of the National Assembly concluded its work on the details of the budget on Monday, the voluminous document still needed to pass through the scrutiny of the Legal Department of the National Assembly to ensure that all the loose ends are tied up before its transmission to the presidency.
Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi, who has been monitoring the process, confirmed to THISDAY that the Legal Department of the National Assembly concluded its scrutiny of the budget at about 7p.m. on Monday and thereafter the document was conveyed to the Presidential Villa.
“I can confirm to you that the budget has been transmitted to Mr President. You know the process was delayed at the Legal Department yesterday (Monday) but I left some of my officers to monitor the final processes. So on a final note, the process was completed late and it has been sent,” Emodi said.
With the transmission of the budget to the executive arm of government, President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to assent to it within the next 30 days.
Jonathan may also veto it by refusing to sign it into law if he has any misgivings about its contents and is unable to resolve it with the parliament.
Under the law, the National Assembly is also equally empowered to override the veto of the president after 30 days. The two chambers of the National Assembly can recall the budget after the 30-day deadline and pass it into law if they can muster the support of two thirds of the members of each of the chambers to do so.
Jonathan had in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act presented the 2013 budget estimates last October to the National Assembly.
The early presentation was based on the understanding that the National Assembly would give the bill accelerated passage to enable the president sign it into law for the budget to commence on the first day of 2013