Acting president received the nation's budget two weeks ago. We can explain why he hasn't signed the darned thing.
After receiving the 2017 budget from the national assembly on May 19, the office of the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, announced that the appropriation document will be “undergoing very prompt and diligent consideration”.
Well, 'prompt' now certainly has a new meaning.
It’s been two weeks since that heavily covered hand-over ceremony.
Osinbajo is yet to assent to the 2017 budget.
Pulse has been working the phones and speaking to sources in and out of the Villa to find out why there's been a snag.
And no, it has nothing to do with Osinbajo not having the powers to sign documents in Buhari's absence.
Here’s why Osinbajo has withheld his assent thus far:
1. Sorry to break this to you rather nicely, but the 2017 budget has been heavily padded again like the ones before it.
You should know what budget padding is by now, yeah?
Ok, let’s put you out of your misery because you asked—budget padding refers to the act where extraneous insertions from lawmakers find their way into a country’s annual budget.
It’s called 'pork barrel' elsewhere, but in Nigeria, it’s pork barrel without the ‘pork’.
Lawmakers insert all kinds of monies into the financial estimates from the executive to benefit themselves and not their constituencies like they all claim.
2. What is the extent of this padding, biko?
Ok, we got you.
Pulse was told that when the executive received the budget document from the legislature, it was taken aback as to the extent of the insertions.
“The budget handed to the acting president now has over 400 insertions and over N140B in extra financial estimates for projects that probably can’t be defended by the lawmakers”, one Aso Rock source squealed.
The 2017 budget contains provisions totalling N7.3 trillion.
Another source told Pulse that the executive is now wondering where to find the money needed to fund the extra provisions in the budget.
The executive never esperrerit.
3. Pulse was also told that the executive is considering suing the national assembly over an interpretation of the appropriation act in the country’s constitution.
That section appears to grant the national assembly the power to chop and change the budget however it deems fit.
Section 80(2) of the constitution provides that : “no monies shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the Fund by the constitution or where the issue of those monies has been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in compliance with Section 81 of the constitution”.
Section 80(3) reads that: “No monies shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation unless the issue of these monies has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly”.
4. Pulse was told that the presidency is mulling over the idea of hiring lawyers to explain the above sections in the nation’s laws.
5. Sources at the Villa say the acting president has been painstakingly going through the budget alongside other members of the economic management team, but they've been left dazed by it all.
However, we were told, “Osinbajo and his team have been left in a quandary. The acting president may just withhold his assent until president Muhammadu Buhari makes his return home”.
Buhari is reportedly responding well to treatment and is expected back home in the next couple of days.