Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, saturday said the presidency was studying 2017 budget recently passed by the National Assembly to ensure that figures appropriated to MDAs are consistent with the realities on ground.
Dismissing speculations that the presidency might reject the budget passed by the National Assembly because the legislature raised the budget figure, Enang said just the same way the National Assembly took its time to subject the budget to rigorous legislative processes it was only fair that the presidency was allowed to scrutinise the document presented to it by the legislature.
In a statement issued saturday, Enang said: “When the budget was presented to both chambers of the National Assembly for consideration last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, both chambers subjected the document to legislative processes using internal systems at their disposal.
“This, exactly, is what the presidency is actually doing at the moment, to ensure what would be eventually assented to, sufficiently addresses the nation’s present realities as not doing so could expose government to a backlash from Nigerians.
“Right now, the presidency is subjecting every detail of the budget using the available systems at its disposal to ensure the figures appropriated to MDAs are consistent with the realities on ground, while also engaging in consultations.â€
According to the statement, Enang said the presidency was working within the constitutional time-frame required to process details of the budget, adding that the presidency would engage the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, if there were areas that further needed their input.
The presidential aide, who said this in apparent reaction to insinuations that one of the reasons the presidency was not going to sign the budget was because of the figures added to the budget by lawmakers, however reiterated that there was no truth in such rumour.
The National Assembly had increased the budget by N143 billion as intervention in key areas like the aviation and railways.
But Enang, in saturdayâ€™s statement, maintained that, “There is no such plan to reject the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly as alleged in some reports. The Presidency can only assent to the budget or withhold assent as the case maybe.
“However, should there be areas needing input, the Presidency would engage the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives. As such, any report suggesting a rejection of the 2017 budget by the presidency is incorrect.â€