On December 22, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari stood before a joint session of the National assembly and presented the 2016 appropriation bill. A bill which the APC widely acclaimed to be “a budget of Change,” Professor Chukwuma Soludo termed “a copy and paste version of President Goodluck Jonathan’s, with a few tweaks here and there,” while, Michael Oluwagbemi thinks “the budget was high on empathy and low on specifics and also showed a certain dissonance between policy pronouncements and budgetary gaps.”
Fast forward to 12th January 2016, Nigerians woke up to the alarming news that the 2016 budget was missing. Unbelievable, right? The next story to reach the public was that there were now two versions of the budget. The senate’s committee on ethics, privileges and petition went on to investigate this discrepancy and their findings led to the conclusion that the senior special assistant of the president on National Assembly matter, Senator Ita Enang, had printed a version which was different from what the President initially presented, and had this distributed to members of the National Assembly. The senate resolved to consider only the version presented by Mr. president as soon as they receive the soft copy of the original version. The man as the center of this controversy, Senator Enang has refused to comment on this matter as he does not want to “join issues with the senate.”
Earlier today, THISDAY newspaper reported that the presidency has officially written the National Assembly to formally request the withdrawal of the 2016 budget for adjustment.
Which brings me to my questions.
First of all, if the backlash from the general public had been too much after the initial presentation of the appropriation bill and the presidency wanted to withdraw it, why was this formal request not made at the initial stage instead of trying to smuggle a new document past the National Assembly?
Secondly, should all the blame fall squarely on Senator Enang? Are we expected to believe he was acting on just his own discretion?
Will it also be proper to say the Presidency didn’t do its home work well in the first place? Or can we say we have a listening President, that heeds the cry of the people?
So, with this step to recall the budget, we can safely say that “The budget of change” needs change after all.
Peep highlights of the “controversial” budget here.