President Buhari at work

Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday received the full details of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly.

The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, alongside his colleague, Hon. Ismaila Kawu, who brought the document to the Presidential Villa confirmed its receipt to State House correspondents.
He said: “The budget details have been transmitted to His Excellency, Mr. President today. The constitutional process begins thereafter.

“We have transmitted it to the office of the president and the constitutional process of timing starts.”
Buhari had refused to sign the budget when it was passed last month citing the absence of the expenditure breakdown. He insisted on seeing the details and having it scrutinised by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), before signing the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law.

THISDAY sources confirmed that the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa signed the 1,800-page document yesterday morning and presented it to Enang at about 10 am for onward transmission to Buhari.
“I can confirm to you that Senator Enang received the document this morning. You recall the clerk of the National Assembly received it yesterday. So he has signed it, and it has been given to the SSA,” a source said.

Another source, however, was critical that the process of transmission was dragged into an unnecessary controversy.
“For instance, it should not have been Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumim (Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation) that should even take it to the clerk.

“It was supposed to be the clerks of the joint Committees on Appropriations. But they probably needed to do it this way because of the unnecessary issues, which is also why it has been transmitted almost immediately,” the source said.
Meanwhile the Senate has provided clarifications into the controversy that surrounded the transmission of the budget details to the president.

Speaking with THISDAY late Wednesday night, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, explained that the document initially transmitted to the president was not budget highlights as claimed by the presidency but the Appropriation Bill to which he would give his assent.

According to him, the normal procedure is to first transmit the Appropriation Bill, which contains a summary of the budget described as the “highlights”.

He added that the president could not assent to the budget itself but the Appropriation Bill, which had been sent to him.
He dismissed claims that the National Assembly should have sent an explanatory note to Buhari that it was the Appropriation Bill that was transmitted to him while the federal legislature was still working on the details.

The senator said it was not the duty of the National Assembly to provide the explanation, adding that it was the responsibility of his aides on National Assembly matters to educate the president on such issues.
“What we did was to transmit the mega components which was the real thing. What we passed was the bill. The president has liaison officers who should explain to him. Do you want to tell me they don’t know the procedure?” he queried.