By Bayo Bernard
Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2018 budget, there are indications that Presidency will not implement the document endorsed on Wednesday by the president after it was passed by the National Assembly.
President Buhari signed the N9.1 trillion estimates exactly 12: 05 pm on Wednesday, June 21, 2018. The federal government had proposed an N8.1 trillion budget in document President Buhari set before the National Assembly in November 7, 2017.
The signing of the budget came eight months after President Buhari laid the document before the joint session of the House of Representative and Senate in November 2017.
Nigerians had applauded the president’s decision to sign the budget in the hope that it will bring relief to the economy. That hope is gradually slipping away now that signals are beginning to emanate from the presidency that President Buhari has no plan to implement the document.
Indications that the government was not prepared to go ahead with the letters of the Budget first emerged during the signing on Wednesday after the president expressed reservation over the decision of the National Assembly to tamper with the original document it received from the president last year.
The National Assembly had increased the Presidency “Budget of Consolidation ”from N8.6 tn. to N9.1 trillion a huge difference of N506 billion.
The lawmakers increased the budget to over N9.12 trillion, with a fiscal deficit of over N1.955 trillion or 1.73 percent to gross domestic product (GDP).
On his twitter handle few hours after he signed the document President Buhari said he was unhappy that the National Assembly have manipulated the document. “A few minutes past noon today, I signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill into Law,” the president said, raising concerns over some of the changes made by the National Assembly in the budget.
Buhari regretted that the federal lawmakers made reductions amounting to N347bn in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578bn.
In total the lawmakers injected 6,403 projects into the budget that has now become law.
The magazine learned from Aso Rock sources last night that President Buhari only signed the document in other to prevent further row with the lawmakers.
The National Assembly had early this month threatened to impeach the president. Citing various reasons, top among them the security situation in the country, the National Assembly had warned that it would “take action” against President Buhari.
Even though some analysts claimed that the threat to impeach the president was due to the crisis of confidence between the president and Senate President Bukola Saraki, others insist that the threat was the latest in the worsening relationship with the lawmakers and the executive.
The magazine learned that some presidential aides impressed it on the president that the administration could not afford to enter into any row with the National Assembly by not signing the budget.
They had told the president to perform the tradition of signing the document even though, according to them” the passed budget is not implementable.”
Few days before the signing, the magazine learned that the president had maintained his hardline posture that the budget should be review and sent back to the lawmakers.
But at a meeting last week attended by few ministers and close aides of the president, the president was advised not to delay the signing as it will send wring signals to the National Assembly, thus raising further tension.
Those that attended the meeting include Kemi Adeosun of Finance, Udo Udoma of Budget and Planning and Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice.