After a lot of Many facts have been thrown regarding the controversy surrounding the 2016 budget which started from being ‘missing’ on Tuesday, and later turned out the printed copies were fake and were not in sync with the copy submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, thus indicating the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang.
It will be recalled that the two controversies emanated from the end of two separate executive sessions of the senators, the missing budget came up on Tuesday and the circulation of two versions of the budget started on Thursday.
According to Daily Trust, a principal officer who declined to have his name in prints said the budget that President Buhari laid on December 22, last year was the wrong copy. “You know Buhari swore in his ministers very late, so when they got to their ministries, they didn’t have enough time to look into the budget.
So when the National Assembly reminded the Presidency that there was an urgent need to present the budget in order to meet the constitutional requirement, they said they will present it on the 18th, but later they came and told us that they were not ready, apparently because they were yet to finish works on the budget document.
“They now fixed 22nd of last month, but the budget was not ready at that time again. So, they packaged something for the president to present, since the date had been fixed. They withheld the soft copy because they knew it would be at variance with the one they were preparing.
‘’So when we were about to resume, they brought a new one and produced over 500 copies for the Senate and the House of Reps, but the problem is how to retrieve the copy laid by the president because there are significant differences in the two,’’ he said.
To retrieve the copy laid by Buhari, he said, Enang collected the copy laid from the clerk of the Appropriation Committee in Senate with a view sneaking in the new ones. “
Meanwhile, we have already fixed last Tuesday for the commencement of the consideration of budget but when we asked the clerk to bring the copy, he couldn’t and that was how the issue of missing budget came up. Now they are in trouble as there is nothing to produce copies for the senators to debate upon. They wanted to play a fast one but it didn’t work.
“When Dogara Yakubu came up and said he has the original copies, he didn’t know what was happening. The copies displayed at the House of Representatives were the reproduction of the new version. If they had distributed it, they would have been in serious trouble,” he said. On how they noticed differences in the new version, he said,
‘’When we crosschecked what was made available to us on resumption and the one laid by the President, we discovered that there were sharp differences in what was allocated to the Presidency.
‘’What was made available in the new one is lower when compared to what we have in the old one, especially feeding. The allocation of feeding of Mr. President and the vice president was by far higher than what Jonathan and Namadi spent. You know because of the analysis by a national daily, we put more attention on it,’’ he said.
According to him, the budget that was presented by President Buhari was the one that was prepared on the assumption that Jonathan was going to win the last election.
“The feeding money has been increased. They now realized the mistake. It was in an attempt to correct the mistake that they ran into trouble. If they had taken the National Assembly in confidence, they would have stylishly done that without anybody knowing. This is telling you that the man (the President) doesn’t have people around that are experienced enough,” he said.
Asked about the difference between the copy presented by the President and the one reportedly smuggled by Enang, the spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said he didn’t know.
“I am not in the position to say the differences between the document submitted by the president and the one brought by Enang. The committee that investigated the issue did not include that in their report,’’ he said. Speaking on the controversies, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), said they won’t affect the relationship between the Senate and the Executive.
“I want to be very honest; I don’t understand what is playing out. We started with one problem and we are ending with another problem. Today, we say there are two versions, the procedure of laying the budget is very clear.
“President Buhari laid the budget in December, if somebody says there are two versions, where is the second version and when did we have a procedure of collecting budget from SSA?
We have a procedure. I think it is very necessary to differentiate what is fake from original.
“Senator Enang will be the last person that will do that. It cannot just be one copy. If you doctor one out of eight copies, does it make sense?
If the Executive has a reason to make changes, it is not a crime. It is either they write the National Assembly or retrieve it, even if the budget is passed they have the right to bring supplementary budget,’’ he said.
306 total views, 1 views today