Thursday 25th August, 2016
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Buhari admits alteration in 2016 Budget

 Buhari admits alteration in 2016 Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari has finally ad­mitted making some changes in the provisions of the 2016 Budget.
Buhari, in the letter ad­dressed to the Senate President Bukola Saraki, dated January 16, 2016, said that he made some corrections in the draft Bill and asked the legislature to consider the corrected version as the authentic Appropriation Bill for 2016.
President Buhari observed that although some correc­tions were made on the Budg­et document, “the draft Bill re­mains the same and there are no changes on any of the fig­ures.”
Buhari noted that at the time of submission of the 2016 Budget, he had indicated that the detailed breakdown of the budget containing the sched­ule would be made available to the Senate.
Although the President said that he corrected certain aspects of the Appropriation Bill, the People’s Democrat­ic Party (PDP) lawmakers in the House of Representatives
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regarded Buhari’s action as an amendment to the Budget.
The lawmakers argued that the President lacks the power to amend the budget after pre­senting it to the NASS without a proper withdrawal.
Controversy had trailed the whereabouts of the budg­et when the Upper Chamber, upon resumption from the Christmas and New Year re­cess, declared it missing.
When it was later found, the Senate accused the Spe­cial Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, of doctoring the budget.
The Senate asserted that the Appropriation Bill pre­sented to the National Assem­bly on December 22, 2015 by the President was different from the one Enang distribut­ed to the members and vowed not to deliberate on it.
But yesterday, the Senate confirmed receiving the cor­rected version from Buhari and adopted it.
President Buhari’s letter reads in part: “It would be re­called that on Tuesday, 22nd December 2015, I presented my 2016 Budget proposals to the joint sitting of the National Assembly. I submitted a draft Bill accompanied by a sched­ule of details.
“At that time of submis­sion, we indicated that because the details had just been pro­duced, we would have had to check to ensure that there are no errors in the detailed break­down contained in the sched­ule. That has since been com­pleted and I understand that the corrections have been sub­mitted.
“The National Assembly would therefore have the de­tails as submitted on the 22nd December and a copy contain­ing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.
“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the Nation­al Assembly should work with as my 2016 Budget estimates. The draft Bill remains the same and there are no changes on any of the figures.”
After reading the Pres­ident’s letter, a 30-minute closed-door session was held by the Senate before Saraki called for the adoption of the corrected version of the Ap­propriation Bill and thereaf­ter assured Senators of the re­ceipt of copies of the budget in readiness for consideration of the Bill today.
He praised Buhari for sav­ing Nigeria from further em­barrassment on the confu­sion that had trailed the 2016 Budget by presenting the cor­rected version of the Appro­priation Bill to the two cham­bers of the National Assembly for consideration. The Senate, he said, would commence dis­cussions on it and pass it soon.
In their reactions, the PDP lawmakers rejected the Pres­ident’s letter, arguing that he lacked the power to unilater­ally amend it.
The letter, which was read by the Speaker, Hon. Yaku­bu Dogara, during the plena­ry, was greeted by disapprov­al by the PDP lawmakers, who shouted “No, No!”
The Speaker remarked that the President said corrections had been made to the details of the budget as presented on December 22.
Reacting to the letter, Mi­nority Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) cited Sections 81 and 84 of the 1999 Constitution (as amend­ed), which he said, did not give Buhari powers to amend the budget, adding that such pow­ers fell within the jurisdiction of the legislature.
Ogor urged the House to disregard Buhari’s letter and go ahead to work with the original budget submitted to the House earlier in Decem­ber 2015.
The Speaker corrected the Ogor argument, adding that there was nowhere in the let­ter that Buhari said the budg­et was amended.
Dogara said it is only the President that has powers to make corrections to the budg­et if he observes any error.
The AUTHORITY learnt that a mini commercial bus marked BENUE XA374GTJ, which brought the copies, probably from an unknown commercial printing press, ar­rived in the complex around 11:00am unnoticed.
An eyewitness said: “We just saw the mini bus at the rear entrance of the National Assembly and the people that accompanied it started off­loading the copies of the 2016 Budget; that is all I can tell you for now.”

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