Tinubu’s budget extension request throws House of Reps into rowdy session

A heated session erupted in the House of Representatives on Thursday over President Bola Tinubu’s request to extend the capital component of the 2023 Appropriation Act and the Supplementary Appropriation Act until December 31.

The contentious request has sharply divided lawmakers along party lines, with opposition members voicing strong objections.

President Tinubu seeks the extension to allow for the full implementation of both budgets, inherited from his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari.

The 2023 budget, amounting to N21.8 trillion, and the N819 billion 2022 Supplementary Budget, faced significant delays during the transition period, leaving many projects underfunded.

The opposition’s resistance to the president’s request forced the House into an executive session amid loud booing from members of opposition parties.

Inherited Budgets and Amendments

Upon taking office, President Tinubu inherited substantial financial commitments from the previous administration. The capital component of the 2023 budget and the 2022 Supplementary Budget required amendments and extensions to address funding gaps and implement critical projects.

In July 2023, President Tinubu proposed an amendment to the N819 billion budget, including a N70 billion package for the National Assembly and N500 billion for palliatives and capital expenditures to mitigate the impact of the fuel subsidy removal policy.

In October 2023, he submitted a N2.17 trillion 2023 supplementary budget, predominantly aimed at tackling insecurity. However, the budget included controversial allocations, such as N28 billion for luxury cars for the president and first lady, renovations of the president’s residence, and N5 billion for a presidential yacht.

Previous Extensions

The Appropriation and Supplementary Acts have undergone multiple extensions. Initially extended on December 31, 2023, for three months, they were further extended to March 30, 2024.

Shortly before this deadline, President Tinubu requested another extension until June 30, 2024, which the National Assembly swiftly approved. In the House, the bills passed through all three legislative stages on the same day.

Divided Opinions

As the House reconvened after the executive session, lawmakers remained deeply divided. An anonymous opposition lawmaker stated, “We cannot keep extending these budgets indefinitely. It’s time for accountability and proper implementation, not just rolling over unspent funds.”

On the other hand, a supporter of the extension argued, “The extensions are necessary to ensure the completion of critical projects that were delayed during the transition. We must give the new administration the time to deliver on its promises.”

The session continues to be tense, with both sides holding firm to their positions.

The outcome of this contentious issue will have significant implications for the implementation of key government projects and the overall stability of the legislative process.

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