President Buhari’s letter on budget controversy unveiled

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The days of controversy that had trailed the 2016 budget proposal may have finally been laid to rest, following the public presentation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s official letter on the floor of the Nigerian Senate putting all records straight.

President Buhari’s letter dated 15th January, 2016 and addressed to the Senate President Bukola Saraki, indicated that nothing has changed from the 2016 appropriation bill presented to the joint session of the National Assembly and the subsequent version submitted last week by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang.

After reading the letter at resumed plenary on Tuesday January 19, the Senate President called for a motion to adopt or reject the request of Mr. President which was unanimously approved by the lawmakers.

In the letter, President Buhari said, “it will 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 the time of submission, we indicated that because the details had just been produced, we would have had to check to ensure that there were 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 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 in any of the figures.

Please accept, Mr. Senate President, the assurances of my highest regards”.

Consequently, the Senate has resolved to distribute copies of the budget proposal to all Senators so that debate and consideration can now hold between Wednesday this week and Tuesday next week.

The Senate later went into an Executive session where discussions were held with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele on how to save the Naira from the current downturn it is witnessing in the foreign exchange market, particularly against the dollar.