The executive and legislature were obviously heading on a collision course over the non transmission of the budget details on time, prompting the president to
threaten that unless the budget was brought as submitted, he will not sign. In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL examines what is likely to happen should Buhari
withhold his assent.


Major logjam between the
executive and legislature
was last week Wednesday
averted by the transmission
of the budget details to
the Presidency. The two
chambers of the National
Assembly finally succumbed
to pressure from the
Presidency by submitting
the details of the 2016
budget to the Clerk of the
National Assembly, Mr.
Salisu Maikasuwa.
Chairman of the
House Committee on
Appropriation, Hon.
Abdulmumin Jibrin said,
before transmitting the
budget details to the Clerk of
the National Assembly, the
Appropriation Committee
of both chambers had
concluded work on the
budget details.
According to him, “The
Appropriation Committees
of the Senate and House
of Representatives have
submitted the details of
the 2016 Appropriation
Bill to the Clerk of the
National Assembly for
onward transmission to the
Presidency. While we thank Nigerians for their patience
and understanding, it is
important to reiterate that it
took us extra weeks to get the
details ready not because there
was anything untoward going
on, but rather so we could
correct all the inconsistencies,
errors, omissions and padding
in the document submitted to
us in December last year.
“Being the most important
economic policy tool of
government, the budget
provides a comprehensive
statement of our priorities as a
nation. And as representatives
of the people, the National
Assembly remains the
appropriate place to ensure
that the details of such a
document best match our
national goals and aspirations.
Therefore, what we have been
doing in these past few weeks
is to balance the projections for
revenue against the estimates
for expenditure based on the
reality of our situation today.
“Unfortunately, that task has
been made very difficult by
the sloppy manner in which
the 2016 Appropriation Bill
was prepared by the executive,
such that many of the officials
who came before our various
committees practically
disowned the inputs from
their own departments and
ministries. In most instances,
and across several agencies, the
bill that was initially presented
to us failed in many respects to connect with the policy
thrust of the government and
the needs of our people. That
is aside the fact that most of
the figures simply did not just
add up. It was one of the most
controversial budgets that ever
came to the National Assembly
from the executive.
“Fortunately, President
Muhammadu Buhari, who we
must commend for showing
leadership, intervened and
that helped in resolving
what had become a serious
logjam. Some officials in the
executive branch have also
been removed from their
duty posts because of these
glaring lapses. That happened
because the president took
direct responsibility and
got involved in the process,
not only to ensure synergy
between the executive and the
legislature but also so that we
could both arrive at a budget
that is implementable for the
good of all Nigerians.”
Buhari had insisted on
seeing the details of the budget
before he could append his
signature. He said he will do
a ministry-by-ministry review
of the budget to ensure that
what had been returned to him
was the same with what his
administration submitted to
the National Assembly.
According to a statement
by his Special Adviser on
Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi
Adesina, “Buhari insisted that he would review the bill
critically before assenting to it.
He said the thorough review
was necessitated by alteration
and padding of the budget
proposals which were carried
out by some unnamed persons.
“There was the need to
review the appropriation bill
to be certain that its contents
tallied with the authentic
budget proposal presented to
the National Assembly.
“Some bureaucrats removed
what we put in the proposal
and replaced them with what
they wanted. I have to look at
the bill that has been passed
by the National Assembly,
ministry-by-ministry, to
be sure that what has been
brought back for me to sign
is in line with our original
Recall that the National
Assembly passed a budget
of N6.06 trillion on March 23,
2016, with a reduction of N17
billion. The document was
subsequently transmitted to
the Presidency within 24 hours
by the Office of the Clerk to the
National Assembly.
Before now, there were clear
indications that the lawmakers
and the president might be
heading on a collision course
over non transmission of the
budget details. Recently, the
President in Washington said
he was not in a hurry to sign
the budget, accusing unnamed
bureaucrats of substituting his proposals with theirs,
thereby padding the budget
to their own advantage.
It was reliably gathered
that the lawmakers were
uncomfortable with Buhari’s
comments that he would
ensure that what would be
given to him for signature
would be in line with the
budget submitted. They
argued that the president
deserves the constitution
right to propose while they
are empowered by the law
to appropriate.
Going by his comments, it
appears that Buhari seems
not to understand where
his powers stop and where
others start. He ought to
have known that under a
democratic dispensation, the
budget cannot be returned
to him the way he presented
it. Bearing this in mind, one
wonders the kind of advisers
surrounding Buhari.
It was the thinking of
many Nigerians that as soon
as the 2016 Appropriation
Bill is passed by the National
Assembly, President
Muhammadu Buhari
would go ahead and signed
it into law without further
delay, but that is not to be.
Apparently, the lawmakers
had worked round the clock
to ensure that the budget is
passed with the hope that
the president will sign it
even without the details, but
to their surprise, Buhari has
insisted on seeing the details
of the budget before he could
append his signature.
On this, Jubrin explained
that the president could
still go ahead and sign the
budget even without the
details. He cited similar case
during President Olusegun
Obasanjo’s tenure, adding
that he went ahead to sign the
budget without the details.
Jubrin hinted that besides
the series of challenges they encountered in the budget, the
Medium Term Expenditure
Framework, MTEF, came very
late. The committee chairman,
however, stressed that it was
not abnormal for the president
not to sign the budget without
seeing the budget details.
“We have been working
day and night, we are doing
our best; we have been very
generous to the executive
arm of government. With all
these series of challenges in
the course of working on the
budget, I doubt very much
that the executive arm of
government or Presidency,
knowing full well what has
transpired in the last few
months, will be throwing
stones at the National
“As I have mentioned earlier
that there is nothing abnormal,
it is a normal practise for the
National Assembly to send the
appropriation bill estimates
to the president. There is also
nothing abnormal for the
President not to assent to it
before seeing the details or
after seeing the details. We
have instances of President
Obasanjo signing the budget
without the details, we came
to Yar’ Adua who always
preferred to see the details.
“So if President
Muhammadu Buhari prefers
to see the details before
assenting to the bill, I don’t
think we should make a big
deal out of it. It is absolutely
normal,” Jubrin stated.
Now that the budget has
been passed and details
transmitted to the president,
how long will it take Buhari
and his team of technocrats
to scrutinise the budget?
Will Buhari go ahead and
sign the budget even if it is
not in tandem with what he
proposed? What happens
if he says the budget was
not what he presented and
thus withholds his assent?
Will the lawmakers get the
required two-third minority
to veto his power in this
The Nigerian constitution
has made it clear that any
bill passed by the National
Assembly, the president
has up to 30 days to assent
or withhold assent. At the
expiration of the 30 days, the
lawmakers can go ahead to
override the president’s veto
with a two-third majority.
A member representing
Ivo/ Ohaozara/Onicha
Federal Constituency of
Ebonyi state in the House of
Representatives, Hon Linus
Okorie explained that the
constitution stipulates 30
days within which the
president is expected to
sign the bill or withhold his
assent. He clarified further
that after the expiration of
the 30 days, the lawmakers
can go ahead to override
the president’s veto with a
two-third majority.
Again, being that the
APC is in clear majority in
both chambers, it has been
argued that it might be
difficult to get the required
two-third majority votes.
Already, we are in the
month of April and the fear
is that the more the budget
issue is being delayed,
the more the anxiety is
heightened. Therefore, it
behoves on the president
to thread with caution on
the matter. Even if some
ministries got much more
or much less than he had
proposed, what he should
do is to get in touch with
the lawmakers through
his special advisers on
National Assembly matters,
convince the lawmakers to
do the proper adjustments
(assign certain sections
in the budget) if the need
Therefore, it is only when
the 2016 budget is passed
and finally signed into law
that Nigerians will begin
to figure out how the APC
led government will bring
about the desired change
many have been yearning
for. At the moment, the
economy is in a coma;
power supply is in its lowest
ebb; shortage of premium
motor spirit across the
country and the issue of
youth unemployment and
In fact, Buhari owes
Nigerians a duty not only
to sign the budget, but also
to implement it judiciously.
Analysts argued that it is the
only way it can add value
to the lives of Nigerians.
Of course, this seeming
disagreement between the
two arms of government
over the budget details
does not and will not augur
well for the growth of the
country. It is worthy to note
that when they begin to flex
muscles, it is the Nigerian
people that will suffer. It is
a typical case of when two
elephants fight, it is the
grass that suffers.

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