President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill of N17.126 trillion into law.
President Buhari signed the budget at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), after it was presented to him by his Senior Special Assistant (Senate) on National Assembly, Senator Babajide Omoworare.
Signing the document, Buhari frowned at some additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.
Among the changes he frowned at include an increase in projected Federal Government independent revenue by N400 billion.
On reduction, Buhari was displeased in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion, and reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively; all without any explanation.
He equally expressed his reservations on the insertion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote, which according to him, negated the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the legislative arm of government.
Buhari also expressed worry about the changes to the original executive proposal in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects, as well as reduction of the provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects and the introduction of 6,576 new projects into the budget.
He said that most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of state and local governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed, and cost.
The president said he would ask the National Assembly for an amendment of the budget as soon as the lawmakers return from their recess to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to his administration do not suffer a setback as a result of reduced funding.
He noted that during the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill, he had hinted that the 2022 fiscal year would be very crucial in his administration’s efforts to complete and put to use critical agenda projects, as well as improve the general living conditions of Nigerians.
According President insisted that the cuts by the lawmakers could render the implementation of the budget impossible.
He promised to commence early preparation of the 2023 transition budget and quickly begin the process to ensure early submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; and Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, among others, witnessed the signing of the budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari with some of his cabinet members during the signing of the 2022 Budget at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on December 31, 2021.
In his response, the Senate President told State House correspondents that the lawmakers were right in their decisions.
The reservations of the Executive, according to him, are not unusual and may not necessarily coincide with that of the legislature.
This comes a week after lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate chambers of the National Assembly passed a budget of N17.126 trillion, increasing the benchmark price of crude from $57 to $62 per barrel.
During the plenary on Wednesday last week, the Senate had passed the 2022 budget while Senate President Lawan gave an assurance that the bill would be sent to the President for assent the following day.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives had also passed the budget last Tuesday. The National Assembly raised the total 2022 budget figure from the proposed N16.391 trillion to N17.126 trillion.
President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, had disclosed to Channels Television on Tuesday that the budget would be signed on Friday.
Channels Television had also obtained a communication addressed to the Presidency by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Ojo Amos, indicating that the bill had been transmitted by the National Assembly.
The document, with Reference Number NASS/CNA/37/Vol.1/35, suggested that the budget was transmitted last Friday and received by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President on Saturday.
It read, “In consonance with the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, I wish, with due respect, to forward to Your Excellency, the authenticated copies of Appropriation Bill, 2022, for your consideration and assent.
“After Your Excellency’s assent, one copy of the signed bill should be retained in your office while the other two are to be returned for our further action, please.
“With my highest regards.”