Suspended Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) has expressed regrets that the acting President Yemi Osinbajo may have played into the hands of the National Assembly by signing the 2017 budget into law despite the misgivings he had over the document.
He however said the acting President Osinbajo’s gesture should not be mistaken as a flaw neither was it deserving of the threats he is getting from the federal legislators.
Jibrin, in a statement Monday regretted that due process was jettisoned over grey areas identified by the acting President before the document was signed into law.
Jibrin however assured that more facts about the 2016 budget were set to be released by him as a means of further identifying the inherent flaws in the 2017 budget document.
He said: “The Ag President made what, in my opinion, was a harmless remark when he observed that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects in the budget. In the same statement, however, he admitted the powers of NASS to allocate resources as that is its core powers of appropriation.
“I consider his statement very objective. His tone wasn’t confrontational, neither was his body language. Ag President Osinbajo had a day earlier signed the 2017 budget noting that there were grey areas, especially funds lifted from key projects, to introduce new projects by NASS.
“He further stated that he agreed to sign the budget after the assurance of commitment from NASS to restore the lifted funds. That demonstration of faith in NASS was unprecedented, and the most generous concession in budget negotiation by a President since 1999.
“No any President has ever agreed to sign the budget into law on the basis of extracting commitment from NASS to attend to outstanding issues after the budget is signed into law, the reasons being:
“Once the budget is signed into law, the President MUST implement it, whether NASS makes the correction or not.
“There are only two ways to achieve such corrections: supplementary budget or Virement, both of which are as good as going through the entire budget process all over again, and will require the Executive to go the full length of lobbying and massaging the ego of NASS, a process they detest so much.
“Already an unhealthy prevailing circumstances is being created that will make the process tough and place few people in NASS to negotiate some selfish interest only beneficial to themselves.
“That has been the name of the game. The NASS should know that how it handles this historic concession granted it by the Executive under the guide of Ag President Osinbajo will determine the approach of the Executive Arm in future budget negotiation”.
Jibrin said Osinbajo was able to accomplish a lot with the signing of the budget what no leader had done before.
“On one occasion, President Buhari said, “If we have waited for six months, we can as well wait for weeks for NASS to correct the grey areas before I sign.” That has been the pattern with successive presidents.
“No President was ready to take the risk with NASS but Osinbajo did, as it appeared like striking a deal with an untrustworthy partner.
“Whether this seeming pact is calculated or not, is left for time and the scrutiny of vigilant and critical Nigerians to determine.
“What is obvious, however, is: the Ag President has played into the hands of NASS.
“What the Ag President has given to NASS is a victory it has never had in the budget process since 1999, understandably to strengthen the relationship between the two frequently hostile arms of government.
“And so, he deserves a reciprocal gesture and unmistakable friendship from the lawmakers, not attacks and threats. This is my position,” he added.
The lawmaker disclosed that in due course, he would do a recap of the 2016 budget fraud with new revelations of facts and key actors involved.
“We will talk about fraud in 2017 budget, how members of the Executive arm collaborate with NASS in this venture, new strategies to beat vigilant eyes, concealment, abnormality, reckless spending, budget revenue frame work, and 2 dollar extra benchmark.
“Also to be addressed are N140 billion increment in budget size amidst dwindling revenues (the largest in recent years), poor economics, the “reformed” budget process, public hearing of budget, page by page consideration of details, corrigendum, the lies, facts and half-truths of budgeting, conspiracy of a few members of NASS in the budget process against majority of the 359 Members and 108 Senators and, very importantly, how to stop these infractions”.
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