Fresh hurdle as Buhari gets highlights of 2016 budget
• Why he may delay assent • Think outside the box to tackle economic crises, Anyaoku tells president
Though President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received the transmission of the Appropriation Bill (2016 Budget) which was recently passed by the National Assembly, there are indications he might not be in a hurry to assent to it because the document does not contain details of the breakdown.
The two chambers of the National Assembly passed the budget last week after about three months. While the Senate passed its version on Wednesday last week, the House of Representatives passed its own version a day after on Thursday.
But it was not clear yesterday when the conference committees of both chambers saddled with the responsibility of reconciling the two versions of the bill had met on the budget.
Meanwhile, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute a strong team of experienced economic experts and analysts who will take the country out of its crises.
Anyaoku gave this advice in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital while chairing the launch of a book: Audacity on the Bound: A Diplomatic Odyssey.
The book, written by Mr. Olusola Sanu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia in commemoration of his 86th birthday anniversary, was reviewed by another Ambassador, Chief Oladapo
Signals from the Presidency yesterday indicated that the signing of the budget into law by Buhari might suffer some delays following what the source described as ambiguity in the way the document was handled by the lawmakers.
The delay may also be compounded by the fact that the President is expected to be out of the country for the United States , for about a week, where he is expected to join other world leaders in a nuclear summit
However, the source noted that though the president is very anxious to sign the bill into law, the National Assembly only sent in the highlights without the details of the budget.
“As a result, the president has been handicapped in signing the bill because he does not know what is contained in the dletails and what adjustments the National Assembly must have made to the proposal sent to them.
“Although he is anxious to sign the document so that implementation could start immediately and ease the tension in the economy and polity, he is afraid he may later discover, when the details are sent, that what is contained therein is not implementable.
“He wishes the National Assembly could send in the details speedily so that it could be considered for assent.’’
Ministers, also eager that the budget be signed so they could start implementing their programmes, are unable to push the President to sign what has been transmitted because they also do not know what is contained in the details.
“They are particularly worried that the year is gradually aging and the provision of the law in respect of spending the previous year’s budget is not helping matters because of the low capital provision for 2015.
“Because of the low provision made last year for capital expenditure, spending 50% of that provision for the first half of this year will make no impact on provision of infrastructure.”
The source noted that the Budget Office could not work on the budget for implementation because it is the details, and not the highlights, that they convert into implementable templates for the respective ministries, departments and agencies, (MDAs).
As the source noted: “This latest development confirms speculations that the National Assembly either did not complete work on the budget or are playing politics with the documents which affects the life of both the country and its citizens.’’
There are signals that the suspicious relationship between the two arms of government over the 2016 budget appears far from being over.
Indeed, the Presidency source noted that the National Assembly might just have passed the bill with a view to passing the buck to the executive and escape the wrath of the public which was gradually suspecting it of sabotage.
Anyaoku said the best way to take the country out of its economic quagmire characterised by high inflation, high cost of living, fuel scarcity, dwindling oil revenue and shortage of power supply is to think outside the box and immediately constitute an economic team on whether the naira should be further devalued or not.
He said: “ I will like to use this opportunity to restate my view that President Muhammadu Buhari should stick to his devaluation agenda and constitute a team of experts to best tackle the economic crises, including whether naira will be devalued or not.’’
Anyaoku said various problems identified in the past by the author, Sanu, had vindicated his call for the restructuring of the Nigerian presidential system of government, where a chairman of a local council has an array of advisers and assistants.
The frontline diplomat described Sanu as a rare gem who has been showing a high level of intellectual prowess since they met 53 years ago in New York, saying the book is a great ‘ ‘material for the present generation.’’
While proffering solutions to global challenges such as
terrorism, insurgency, insecurity and financial crises confronting most countries of the world, Anyaoku challenged former diplomats to as a matter of concern, put their own experiences and ideas in memoirs for young generations to learn from.
The special guest of honour and former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), remarked that Sanu’s contributions and
innovations led to the establishment and creation of many organisations which contributed to the integration of African nations in the past.
Reviewing the 500-page, 21-chapter book written within a year, Amb. Oladapo Fafowora described it as a well-articulated material that highlighted the 86 years of Sanu’s experiences, life and times.
Ambassador Sanu, who was born on March 24 1930 is currently the Chairman of Ibadan Elders Forum. He expressed gratitude to God and those who have supported him as he described his feat as the first indigene of Ibadan to be appointed as ambassador as a rare opportunity.
Those present at the launch include the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji Ajeogunguniso 1 along with other Ibadan High Chiefs, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Oba Olufemi Olutoye,
Alani of Ido-Ani, Chief Philip Asiodu, Emeritus Professor Olu Akinkugbe and Alhaji Ahmed Joda.
Others include former Governor of the Old Oyo State, Dr. Victor Olunloyo, Chief Femi Okunnu, Gen. Oluwole Rotimi, Chief Adebayo Akande and his wife, Nike and Chief Adebayo Oyero.