Omololu Ogunmade and James Emejo in Abuja
The presidency yesterday explained that todayâ€™s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was cancelled because the Eid-el-FitrÂ holidays of last Friday and Monday affectedÂ the preparation of council memoranda.
Giving the explanation in a terse statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, added that President Muhammadu Buhari would today sign the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law.
â€œPresident Buhari will sign the 2018 Appropriation Bill into lawÂ Wednesday (today) atÂ noon
Meanwhile, the FEC meeting will not holdÂ today.Â This is due to theÂ Eid-el-FitrÂ holidays last Friday and Monday, which affectedÂ preparation of council memoranda,â€ Adesina said.
The N9.1 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly on May 17 is made upÂ ofÂ N3.5 trillion recurrent (non-debt) expenditure and N2.8 trillion capital expenditure.
The budget is N500 billion higher than the N8.6 trillion proposal presented to the National Assembly by Buhari in November 2017.
The National Assembly also increased the oil benchmark proposed by the executive from $45 to $51 per barrel butÂ retained oil production volume proposal at 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate at N305 to $1.
The budget as passed by the federal legislature also comprisedÂ N530,421,368,624 as statutory transfer; N2,203,835,365,699 for debt service;Â N1,954,464,993,775 as fiscal deficit which impliesÂ 1.73 percent deficit to gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, indications emerged yesterday that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, might not be present at the signing ceremony of the 2018 budget today.
The annual signing ceremony is usually witnessed by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House.
Already,Â Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is out of the country.
Saraki last night led the Senate delegation on a three-day parliamentary visit to Russia, aimed at deepening legislative best practices andÂ further strengthening the relationship between both countries.
He is expected back in the country on June 22, 2018.
For Dogara, sources in his office told THISDAY yesterday that he is currently undertaking an academic training course at the London School of Economics (LSE), and might not be around for the budget signing Â ceremony today.
Nonetheless, it was also gathered that the leadership of the lower chamber would likely send a representation to the event.
Another source further confided in THISDAY yesterday that the president would have ordinarily declined to sign the budget given the spending increases by the parliament but for want of time and the fact that elections were drawing closer by the day.
The 2017 budget was likewise dogged by controversy after the presidency initially refused to sign the appropriation bill into law because the legislature tweaked the original estimates and introduced several other items, without due consultation with the executive.
Both parties finally reached a compromise before the then acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, signed the bill into law as Buhari was out of the country on medical vacation.