President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill of N17.126 trillion into law.
The President signed the budget presented to him by his Senior Special Assistant (Senate) on National Assembly, Senator Babajide Omoworare, on Friday at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He was, however, displeased with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.
President Buhari highlighted some of the worrisome changes in the budget to include an increase in projected Federal Government independent revenue by N400 billion, reduction 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 also expressed his reservations on the inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote, which he said negated the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.
The President was also concerned 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.
According to him, 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.
President Buhari said he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for an amendment 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 recounted that during the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill, he stated 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.
The 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 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.
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.