President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara for delaying the passage of the 2019 budget, thereby causing Nigeria to miss the fiscal period.
The legislative arm of Nigeria had passed the 2019 Budget in April 2019 during a plenary session led by Saraki. This was five months after President Buhari presented the budget to the National Assembly in December.
“I told them (Saraki and Dogara) how do they feel to hold the country to ransom for seven months without passing the budget. They are not hurting me, they are hurting the country. I rate them very low.
“To hold a budget for seven months cannot be justified if you really bother about your country.” Buhari said in an interview with nta yesterday.”
Reason for the late passage: The relationship between the leaders of the National Assembly and the Presidency has been less than cordial in the last three years. The frosty relation worsened after Saraki and Dogara both dumped the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party to rejoin the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) last year. This, coupled with witch-hunting allegations, deteriorated the relationship.
Dogara Defends NASS: In a post published on the Speaker’s website, Dogara said the job of the legislatures is not to always agree with the Federal Government, as there isn’t any chamber in the world that does so. According to him, the budget is a sensitive issue that needs careful attention, so if the administration wants the January-December timeframe, then FG should ensure early submission of the budget to NASS.
“There is always a strain, this issue of budget, because it deals with high stakes-distributional issues as to who gets what, which part of Nigeria gets this and that, so it will continually be an issue.” Dogara said in the post.
Why this matter: Nigeria’s fiscal budget runs from January to December. However, it’s almost six months into the year and six months left to the end of 2019 and President Buhari just signed the budget yesterday after Senate passed it in April.
The delay in budget implementation could ground or slow operation in some ministries, thereby leading to the late execution of some vital.
More so, the Presidency will now have the perfect excuse to defend its failure to complete certain projects in 2019. It would simply blame it on the delayed passage.
What you need to know: Contrary to President Buhari’s claim that the budget was held for seven months, it was actually five months, because he presented the budget in December to a joint session of the National Assembly, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives.