After 10-day delay, National Assembly transmits 2019 budget to Buhari

The National Assembly has transmitted the 2019 Appropriation Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Saturday....

The National Assembly has transmitted the 2019 Appropriation Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Saturday.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives passed the national budget on April 30, 2019.

When contacted on the telephone on Saturday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr Umar el-Yakub, said the budget had been transmitted.

“Yes, it has (been transmitted) on Thursday evening. But you know that they (executive) will have to analyse it before it is assented to,” he said.

When asked if the bill had been delivered to the President, el-Yakub said, “You asked if it had been transmitted and I said yes. When you asked if it was with the President, it may not be with the President; it has to be analysed. You just don’t sign budgets because they have been passed (by the legislature).

“First, it was a budget proposal. So, one needs to look at it and see. The National Assembly has passed it. It will go to the President who will analyse it and sign it as usual.”

When el-Yakub was informed that some senior officials of the National Assembly as of Friday said the budget was still being worked on, he said, “No, it has been transmitted.”

It was observed that several top officials of the National Assembly as of Friday did not know that the budget was no more with the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Sani-Omolori, who was to sign and transmit the letters through the presidential liaison officers.

A source in the House Committee on Appropriations had said the bill was transmitted from the committee to the Clerk on Wednesday.

A senior official in the National Assembly Management on Friday said the document was referred to the Department of Legal Services for consideration on Thursday and was still there as of 2pm on Friday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “I am sure the Clerk will sign the budget anytime from now once the Legal Department has okayed it. He is billed for a trip next week and he has been signing off documents on his table.”

An official in the office of the Clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity earlier on Tuesday, had disclosed that the administrative arm of the legislature was still working on the national budget.

The source noted that after the passage by the political arm – lawmakers – which is more about budgetary estimates, the administrative arm would still work on other aspects of the budget.

Addressing journalists after the passage, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Mr Mustapha Dawaki, had said the budget would be transmitted to the President by May 2.

“As I am talking to you, the budget has been passed by both chambers. Today, we are happy that the National Assembly has passed the budget at the end of April – on April 30, 2019. I believe that by Thursday, it will be transmitted to the President for assent,” he had said.

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