Controversy mounts over signing of 2017 Budget

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budget

.NASS yet to transmit document to Presidency

.FEC members were only informed Wednesday morning that the budget had been passed- Lai Mohammed

.’‎The decision of who will sign the budget will be taken when it is transmitted to the presidency’

.’I never said FG does not know who will sign the 2017 budget’

Controversy is now trailing the signing of the 2017 Budget into law as there are conflicting signals over when the National Assembly will transmit the documents to the Presidency and who will eventually sign the documents.

The Daily Times recalls that the budget was passed with fanfare by the lawmakers last Thursday while the leadership of the Senate commended the Senator Danjuma Goje-led Appropriation Committee for laying the budget with the details for the first time in the history of the National Assembly.

But the expectations that the National Assembly would send the budget to the presidency in good time has been dashed with allegations of certain alterations of figures and discrepancies over the documents.

Though the lawmakers did not make official comment on these allegations, it was gathered that the concerned lawmakers are now doing everything possible to address the issues and make the documents ready for transmission to the presidency.

The National Assembly is yet to make official pronouncement on when it will transmit the budget to the presidency.

But the Federal Government has added a new dimension when it disclosed that it is yet to decide on whether

President Muhammadu Buhari or Acting President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) would sign the 2017 Budget.

Speaking through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, in Abuja, the Federal Government said that a decision is yet to be taken on who will sign the 2017 budget into law between Buhari and Osinbajo.

Buhari, who is now in London for medical treatment, had activated section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) when he transmitted a letter to the National Assembly about his medical trip, thereby transferring power to Osinbajo as the acting President.

Osinbajo has been performing the functions of the president and it is expected that he will sign‎ the budget into law when the lawmakers transmit the documents to the presidency.

But speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, Mohammed said the National Assembly was yet to transmit the budget and its details to the presidency.

When asked who will sign the budget when the legislature sends the document, Mohammed replied, “‎That decision will be taken when it is transmitted to the presidency‎.”

The minister further disclosed that FEC members were only informed on Wednesday morning that the budget had been passed.

He said: “In respect of the budget, it was only this morning that the Minister of Budget and National Planning informed the council that the budget had been passed.

“He has not sent to us individually copies of the passed budget. We will now need to look at it against what we sent and if there is any discrepancy, we will report back to the Minister of Budget and National Planning for harmonisation.”‎

‎Regarding the implementation of the 2016 budget, Mohammed said, “The Ministry of Budget and National Planning‎ will make the implementation of the 2016 budget public. They have told us at the town hall meeting that about N1.2 trillion was released for capital.”‎

Responding to a question on the delay in the inauguration of two new ministers, Mohammed said, “They will be sworn-in in due course.‎”

The Senate had two weeks ago confirmed the two ministers – Stephen Ocheni (Kogi State) and Suleiman Zanna Hassan (Gombe State). Ocheni replaced the late Mr. James Ocholi (SAN), former Minister of State for Labour, who died in a road crash in 2016 while Hassan took over from Mrs. Amina Mohammed who resigned as Minister of Environment, to assume office as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN).

But the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has faulted media reports that quoted him as saying that the Federal Government does not know who will sign the 2017 budget.

In a statement issued to journalists on Wednesday by his Special Adviser, Segun Adeyemi, Mohammed said he was misrepresented in the statement, insisting that such a statement was a malicious misrepresentation of what transpired at the post-FEC press briefing earlier on Wednesday.

The statement reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to a story in a section of the media (not The Daily Times) quoting the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as saying that “we don’t know who will sign the 2017 budget”. This quote is a malicious misrepresentation of what transpired at the post-Federal Executive Council Meeting press briefing on Wednesday, 17 May 2017.”

“When the Minister was asked a question relating to the signing of the 2017 Budget, his response was: ”When it is transmitted to the Presidency, the issue will be addressed.” “Anything beyond that response amounts to deliberate mischief and should be ignored.”

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