By Daniel Idonor
AFTER three weeks of inaction in assenting the 2010 Appropraition Act as passed by chambers of the National Assembly, due to a logjam between the Presidency and the lawmakers, all is now set for Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to sign it today.
The event which will be brief holds in the office of the Acting President at 10 a.m, and it is expected that the leadership of the federal lawmakers from both houses will be present to witness it.
The historic moment will be the first time the Acting President will be appending his signature in the form of assent to the document, thereby making legal the items.
Acting Presidential spokesman, Mr. Ima Niboro, told Vanguard,Â that the decision was the outcome of another marathon meeting which was heralded by exhaustive deliberation of the budget by Executive Council of the Federation, at yesterday’sÂ meeting
At the end of the Council meeting, Vanguard gathered that harmonisation of identified grey areas and discrepancies in the 2010 budget by the executive and legislative arms of government which began Tuesday night are expected to be concluded within this week.
The Acting President was said to have told the cabinet members that it was these unforeseen discrepancies that gave rise to delay in appending his signature to the document, but assured that the assent to Appropriation Act will be done very soon week.
The EXCOF meeting which was presided over by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan with cabinet members in attendance also had extensive deliberation on preparation for the Nigeriaâ€™s 50th Anniversary Celebration, which comes up October 2010.
Besides, the recent official trip of the Acting President to the United States (US) on the invitation of the American President, Mr Barrack Obama, was also discussed by the ministers who applauded the Jonathan for his visitâ€™s positive impact on the Nigeriaâ€™s image.
Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, the Ministers of State for Information and Communication, Mr Labaran Maku, Minister of Foreign Affiar, Mr Odien Ajumogobia, SAN, and the Minister of Education, Professor (Mrs) Ruqaiyatu Ahmed Rufai, said discussion on the controversial budget were continuing.
The Acting President Tuesday night had opened dialogue with the leadership of the NASS aimed at finding a solution to the looming face-off between the two arms of government over budget, which led to the inability of Jonathan to assent to it.
The crucial talks which began at about 9:00 pm did not end until 10:30 pm, this is even as the Acting President left the meeting allowing members of his Economic Team led by the Finance Minister, Mr Olusegun Aganga to continue the meeting with the NASS leadership.
But when the meeting eventually ended none of those in attendance agreed to talk, an indication that both parties to the talks may have been unable to strike a major deal on a possible way out.
Those at the late night meeting which took place in the official residence of the Acting President, Aguda House, included the members of the yet to be inaugurated National Economic Team (NET), led by Jonathan, top echelons of the Senate led by their president, Senator David Mark and the embattled leadership of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole.
The meeting is a follow up to an earlier one staged Monday in Aso Rock which was convened by the Acting President, with the Ministers of Finance, Dr Olusegun Aganga, his State counterpart, Mr Remi Babalola, Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Steve Oronsaye, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Engr Emeka Eze, and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Okuogo, among others in attendance.
But rising from yesterday EXCOF meeting Mr Labaran told journalist the seeming delay in signing the budget was due to some discrepancies but assured that the Acting President told Council that areas of disagreement between the NASS and the presidency has resumed, saying that very soon, the budget would be signed.
According to him, barring all odds, every necessary discussion would be concluded within this week and the budget could be signed within the week.
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji, in the company of the Special Assistant to the President (Senate) Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, had on November 23, 2009, presented a budget proposal of N4.07 trillion for the 2010 fiscal year to the National Assembly.
However it was not passed until after four months, precisely March 23, 2010, that the countryâ€™s planned spending for this year was raised to around N4.3 trillion ($30 billion) from an initial N4.079 trillion by the federal lawmakers without recourse to its workability.
Nigeriaâ€™s 50th Anniversary
Speaking the planned Nigeriaâ€™s Golden Jubilee, the Information Minister disclosed that Presidential committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mallam Yayale Ahmed, is working round the clock to ensure memorable 50th anniversary celebration.
He added the Council resolved that all Nigerians across the world be fully mobilized for the grand celebration which will take a festival form; just asÂ he stressed that the three tiers of government are to be fully involved in the event as Abuja, all state capitals and local government headquarters will witness carnival -like gyrations.
Labaran stated that in the next two weeks or so, the presidential panel would conclude its plans on outlook of the celebration and turn in its report to government for immediate action.