The Nigerian Presidency said on Sunday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was backed by law to return any portion of the 2020 budget that required reworking to the National Assembly.
It noted that the budget was “good enough”, having come from a collaborative effort by the Executive and the National Assembly, but added that it was not “100 percent perfect.”
Buhari had signed the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law last Tuesday after the National Assembly transmitted the total figure of N10.59tn to him.
The budget was N263.9bn higher than the N10.33tn proposal he laid before lawmakers on October 8.
The additional figure was not lost on Buhari as he appended his signature to the money bill.
While thanking the lawmakers for delivering the budget within two months, the President announced that having studied the additions, he might consider sending amendment requests to the National Assembly soon for ease of implementing the adjustments.
The retired Major General noted, “The 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly provides for the aggregate expenditure of N10.59tn, an increase of N263.95bn over the executive’s proposal that was submitted in October.
“We have examined the adjustments and may revert to the National Assembly with a request for a virement or other relevant amendments.”
Buhari’s stance raised concerns about a possible executive-legislature row over the implementation of the new budget.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, on Sunday dismissed any fear of a row between the two arms in the days ahead.
Omoworare observed that in signing the budget, Buhari did not mean that it scored 100 percent; neither did the National Assembly expect that there would be no adjustments.
He argued that no budget in the world was above reconsideration, a reason the Appropriation Act itself made a provision for corrigendum.
The Presidential Liaison Officer also pointed out that both the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 made a provision for a supplementary budget.
He added that if the President said he might revisit some portions of the 2020 budget, he was not wrong because his decision would be backed by law.
Omoworare added, “The whole of democracy is the consensus. Mr President must have signed it having seen that sufficiently, the budget met the aims and aspirations of the government.
“However, there is a provision in the Appropriation Act for corrigendum and another provision in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 for virement within the same head. The constitution itself has a provision for a supplementary budget.”