The presidency says there are no issues between President Muhammadu Buhari with the national assembly over alterations in the recently signed 2022 budget.
According to the presidency, “innumerable lies” are being spread about the president’s disagreement with the parliament.
There had been reports that Buhari expressed reservations on “worrisome changes” made by the national assembly to the 2022 executive budget proposal.
Despite his misgivings, he signed the N17.13 trillion 2022 appropriation bill into law on Friday.
In a statement on Sunday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, said Buhari and the ninth national assembly are committed to a good neighbourly relationship.
“The Presidency wishes to clear the air regarding the widely-viewed/reported episode on Friday, December 31st, at the State House during the signing of the 2022 Budget and Finance Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari; specifically on the insertion in the 2022 Appropriation Act, of 6,576 new schemes worth about N37 billion by the National Assembly,” the statement reads.
“While it is true that the President expressed disagreement with these and many of the other alterations, including the “reduction in the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment Projects’,” innumerable lies are being spread about the President being “angry” at, had “blasted” or “lashed out” at the Parliament. This cannot be farther from the truth.”
The presidency said after the budget signing ceremony, Ahmad Lawan, senate president, had said disagreements such as the ones listed by the president were normal in the executive-parliamentary relationship.
“While we note that there are people who are trying to create a fiasco between the two arms of government on account of the budget, we assure that they will, in the end, be disappointed,” Shehu said.
“The Executive and the 9th National Assembly have since moved away from the wild, destructive political games of the past, conducting themselves in a way that puts national interest supreme in their decisions.
“We doubt if there is a patriotic citizen who wants to see the return of the operating environment engendered by the 8th Senate when an elected government was held in chains, held hostage to the desperate political ambitions of a clique, and the public denied needed services including that which impinged on national security. Happily, the 9th National Assembly is more about policy than politics.
“Under the constitution, both arms of government are coequal and at the same time, independent and interdependent. The rule of the game is cooperation and the President, as a democrat fully accepts this.”
Explaining the president’s rationale for assenting to the 2022 appropriation bill despite the alterations, the presidency emphasised the need to save value-adding projects, programmes and policies.
Shehu added that although over 10,733 projects were reduced and 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the national assembly, there are tens of thousands of more provisions in the budget which will have significant developmental impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
“Given Mr. President’s commitment to improving the lot of the Common Man, it was felt that it would not be wise to throw away the baby with the bathwater. Ongoing Capital Projects, Critical Recurrent Votes, Priority New Projects – all feature in the 2022 Budget and Mr. President’s forbearance in assenting to the Budget will save these provisions from implementation delays and other challenges,” the statement adds.
“President Buhari is a democrat who deeply believes in the supremacy of the Constitution, with its checks and balances across the three arms of Government.
“In terms of the passage of legislations like the Appropriation Act and other Money Bills, the National Assembly has equal responsibilities with the Executive.
“Indeed, if Mr. President had declined assent to the 2022 Appropriation Bill, the National Assembly has powers to override the President’s veto if they can drum up a 2/3 majority vote.”