On Thursday, June 1st, there were claims that the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo will sign the 2017 Appropriation Bill into law. In the end, it turned out to be a ruse.
Despite the fact that the Appropriation Bill was passed on Thursday, May 11th, it appears Professor Osinbajo is not in a hurry to append his signature to the document.
Findings by Ripples Nigeria have revealed that the Acting President is withholding his assent over findings that the National Assembly may have overstepped its bounds by jerking up the budget.
Beyond that, the National Assembly is believed to have significantly increased projects meant to benefit its members, especially its principal officers.
Sectoral allocations were also reportedly altered by the National Assembly. In some cases, where heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) declined to appear before the various standing committees to defend their agencies’ budgets, lawmakers altered the original figures submitted.
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As part of measures to address the grey areas in the budget, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, have met at least twice with the Acting President, in company of two Ministers.
If both parties are unable to address the issues, the document, like in 2016, may be returned to the National Assembly for further legislative action.
The Acting President, Ripples Nigeria gathered, may take a final position on the issue, after consulting with his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the budget passed last month, the two chambers approved a total budget of N7,441,175,486,758. The federal legislature also approved $44.50 as oil benchmark against the $42.50 proposed by the executive.
A breakdown of the budget showed that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing received the lion’s share of N586,535,786,168, followed by the Federal Ministry of Transport with N256,519,103,581, the Federal Ministry of Education got N455,407,788,565 and the Federal Ministry of Health received N308,464,276,248.
A further breakdown shows an allocation of N1,663,885, 430, 449 for debt servicing and N177,460,296,707 as sinking fund to retire maturing loans, making a total of N1,841,345,727,206 for debt management.
Under the Service Wide Vote and Pensions, the Federal Government allocated N2, 599,702,192 for the benefits of retired Heads of the Civil Service of the Federation, this is while four billion naira was allocated for Treasury Single Account operations.
N2.5 billion was allocated to implement the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Allocation for the controversial zonal intervention projects for lawmakers, better known as constituency projects remained unchanged from 2016 at N100 billion. This is as the North-East intervention fund stayed at 45 billion.
Both chambers of the National Assembly, raised their 2017 budget from N115 billion to N125 billion.