The National Assembly said it was not worried by concerns raised by President Muhammadu Buhari over the adjustments it made to the 2018 appropriation bill as the lawmakers “only did their jobs”.
Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn Na-Allah made the position of the legislators known soon after President Buhari signed the budget into law.
Na-Allah, who represented the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, told State House Correspondents that “The 2018 budget has been signed today. The president made it clear that it is going to be a build up on the achievements recorded so far in this administration in impacting positively on the life of Nigerians; i think that is what Nigerians should be happy about. We are not worried; the job of parliamentarians is a very difficult one. The way the budget came, if we had allowed it to go that way, we would have been in trouble with those who elected us. You have to balance between the six geo political zones. It is the balancing efforts by the National Assembly that led to those observations and happily enough, he himself has said he is coming with a supplementary budget which will be dealt with as quickly as possible, I assure you about that one.
On the President’s complain about the passing of the budget seven months after the budget was presented to them, he said: “About the issue of delay, the president is right, but at the same time, if you remember, you were here, the president had to order some MDAs to appear before the Assembly for the purpose of defending their budgets.
“It’s a very delicate issue, if somebody said he wants N500 million for the maintenance of bridges nationwide, then you expect the National Assembly to say Ok, that budget is approved because it came from the Executive, then we have not done our work, we will be interested in knowing which of the roads are you going to maintain so that again, we don’t give another allocation in the next budget. Those observations are correct but in the budgeting process those things are normal.
Similarly, Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa, who represented the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, said the concerns raised by the President were critical.
“I think some of these major concerns Mr President has raised are very critical and I am afraid if I should be in a position to respond on behalf of the House. But for me as an individual and a member of the House of Representatives, I want to belief that the President is at liberty to raise some of these observations. But the most important thing you have to know is that the budget has been signed and is now a law of the federation and we expect the Executive to now implement the law to the latter.
“Certainly you wouldn’t expect us to just rubber stamp and just bring it back. We have to do the nitty-gritty of budget consideration. Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well and we have done what we think is the right thing to do, to deliver on the expectations and the mandate bestowed on us by the people of our constituencies,” he stated.
Doguwa pledged the support of the National Assembly for the President in all facets.
“Should the President however, bring about an amendment or a supplementary budget for the National Assembly to consider, we will also at the same time be at liberty to look at the President’s concerns and those things he wants us to now review and I want to belief the National Assembly is always in a position to work hand in hand with Mr President. A lot of us in both chambers of the National Assembly have tremendous respect for Mr President and we cherish his moral integrity as a leader. I want to belief we will always play in tune to his expectations to make him deliver on the dividends of democracy that he promised especially in this period of election. Some of us that are in the APC, and even a lot of members that are in opposition are quiet aware of the enormous responsibility on the shoulders of Mr President. Now is the right time to cooperate with Mr President and give him what he desires as the leader of the government,” he said.
Giving reasons for the Speaker’s absence at the event, the Chief Whip said, “Well the Speaker is unavoidably absent, but wherever the Speaker may be now, he will be sharing in spirit the moment of this auspicious occasion we have just finished.”