Budget showdown looms as President Buhari withholds assent
Written by Morenike Adebayo on April 11, 2016
President Muhammadu Buhari appears set to return the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly to rework because what the lawmakers sent to him on Thursday for assent, according to Presidency sources, fell below his expectations. By implication, he will not sign the Appropriation Bill into law, as earlier planned, until his return from a week-long trip to China.
The sources confirmed that the President felt disappointed that provisions for major national projects and programs that could turn around the economy were either out rightly removed or funds for them ridiculously slashed by the lawmakers. Among the key projects removed from the budget by the lawmakers are the all-important Calabar-Lagos coastal rail line which the President plans to discuss with the Chinese government during his visit.
Government earmarked N60billion counterpart funds for it but the NASS removed it completely from the budget details.
It was gathered that Buhari had planned to assent to the Appropriation Bill yesterday but the “strategic and fundamental errors/ oversights” in the details may now delay it by a week.
The Presidency also found that the NASS:
*Expunged the Calabar – Lagos rail line project from the budget details;
*Reduced allocation to the completion Idu-Kaduna rail project by N8.7b;
*Slashed allocations for the completion of all major road projects across the country;
*Proposed new roads for which studies have not been conducted;
*Dropped proposals for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like Polio and AIDS;
*Cancelled or reduced allocations for diversification projects under Agriculture and Water Resources; and
*Diverted funds for rural health facilities and boreholes for which provisions had been made elsewhere.