The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume has given detailed clarifications on the discrepancies that led to the controversy surrounding the 2016 budget proposal.
In a re-affirmation of his position that the budget proposal “cannot be missing from the National Assembly”, Senator Ndume told journalists that the Appropriation Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari had not changed irrespective of the two versions of the bill that now exist.
Senator Ndume’s clarification is coming barely 24 hours to the presentation of President Buhari’s official communication to the Senate over the 2016 budget and the issues arising from it.
According to the Senate Leader, “there were issues that came after surrounding the budget process which people disagreed as to how or whether it was done properly. And when the President presented the bill, the details went through what we normally call integrity check, then therefore it came out with, of course, naturally, some differences between the one that was first submitted and the one that was produced at the end of the integrity check. That was what we found out”, he explained.
He further argued that the differences existing in the versions of the appropriation bill were in the interest of Nigerians because more projects would be executed with the same amount of money originally proposed by the President.
“But the good thing is that what the President submitted as a bill is still the same thing. It is not like the =N=6.08trillion has changed or that any of the sub figures changed. No! I think what happened is that, like where we had a particular figure for 3 projects and you say no, this amount is not only supposed to be for 3 projects it can do 4 projects. So you say 4 projects to be done for this so so amount but that amount remains the same”.
The Senate Leader also confirmed that the upper legislative chamber is targeting the end of February as the period to conclude the appropriation process and deliver the budget proposal for President Buhari’s assent.
He said the time frame would have been earlier than February ending, had it not been for the mix up that slowed the appropriation process.