President Muhammadu Buhari Monday signed the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law, and said the ‘padded’ sum into the budget by the National Assembly would make implementation challenging. .
Speaking at the signing of the estimates at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the president said the increase of the appropriation from N8.83 trillion to N8.92 trillion by the National Assembly would make implementation difficult.
“We submitted the budget of N8.83 trillion in December. However, the 2019 Appropriation Bill I am signing today, there is an increase of N90.33 billion, making it a total of N8.92 trillion. This is as a result of some of the increases and reductions in the National Assembly.
“Some of these changes will make it difficult for us to implement our projects and policies. Although I am signing today, I will continue to engage the National Assembly as regards budget implementation. We will make effort to speed up budget preparation, presentation and process,” he said.
The president said he would continue to engage the leadership of the National Assembly on issues relating to operations of the executive arm of government.
President Buhari said the lawmakers deducted N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.
The president said he had to sign the bill in order not to slow down the pace of the nation’s economic recovery, promising to forward “a supplementary and/or amendment budget” to the lawmakers to correct the ‘anomalies’ noted.
He said the administration would seek ways of improving the country’s budget process to speed up its consideration and also return to the January/December fiscal year timetable.
The president commended the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and his finance counterpart, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Budget Office of the Federation and other stakeholders for their roles in the actualisation of the budget, just as he lauded the leadership and members of the National Assembly.
Earlier, Senator Udoma commended the National Assembly leadership for their support, and also appreciated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers and all members of the economic management team for their roles in making the document a reality.
He said: “Because it is a collective endeavour, without their support, it would have been impossible to produce a budget,” the minister said.
Those who attended the signing ceremony were Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation Danjuma Goje; Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha; and Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari.
Others were Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed; Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele; and Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Ita Enang, among others.