The latest trouble with passing Nigeria’s 2016 budget into law

Nigerians are back to holding their breath over the fate of the 2016 budget (Appropriation Bill), as President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to sign the bill into law. According to reports, he is doing this based on the fact that it consists of mere highlights sent in by the National Assembly as opposed to the actual details of how the budget is to be dispensed. This development comes after the news that the bill had been passed into law by the Senate last week, with only a small adjustment made to the initial proposed figure of N6.08 trillion.

According to correspondents, the president, who is currently attending the Nuclear Security Summit in the United States, could not sign the bill before his departure as he is unaware of the changes that have been made since he sent the proposal to the assembly. Thus, the worry is that the bill may presently contain provisions that may not be implementable in the long run.

This anxiety is also shared by the ministers who are eager to begin implementing necessary policies but have to wait for presidential approval. However, they are unable to do much about the situation because they do not have full details on the contents of the budget as well.

Speculations are that the president’s and ministers’ lack of knowledge on the problem was brought on by the fact that the lawmakers did a suspiciously haphazard job in putting the budget together, to allow them deliver it within a specific timeframe and satisfy concerned Nigerian citizens as far as their office is concerned.

In hurriedly passing the bill over to the presidency, the pressure would then be shifted to the president, who is due to return to the country this weekend and does not appear ready to sign the bill without subjecting it to the utmost scrutiny. A move that is being supported by many Nigerians towards achieving transparency for all.

While the fact that the National Assembly might be trying to do a number on the presidency – and in fact Nigerian citizens – by sending in highlights of the budget remains a consideration, another section of speculators argue that the move is an unlikely one for the assembly to make. In the opinion of this group of commentators, it is impossible to send over such crucial documentation to the president without including all the necessary details, which the National Assembly insists that it has done.

As the debates rage on, it appears that the presidency and the assembly are engaged in a sort of battle which could further delay the provisions of the 2016 budget from being made available to Nigerian citizens who are in dire need of them and have been waiting since December 2015.

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