•Review looms as Presidency compiles areas of distortion
By Soni Daniel, Abuja
After spending a week in China to seal economic deals that could see Nigeria draw down $6 billion investments, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja yesterday to finish work on this year’s budget, which has been dogged by controversy.
But there was apprehension, last night, that Buhari, who feels highly embarrassed by the alleged distortion of the budget by some members of the National Assembly, might press for sanctions against those found culpable.
However, a source close to the Presidency said nobody could read the mind of the President on what he intended to do in relation to the crisis associated with the fiscal document.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the apprehension of some powerful federal lawmakers, who allegedly sabotaged the budget for pecuniary reasons, had been identified in both chambers of the National Assembly.
The identification of the roles played by each of the lawmakers, according to competent sources, followed the week-long scrutiny of the document transmitted to the Presidency by the NASS.
Presidency sources confirmed to Sunday Vanguard that the major areas of distortion carried out by the NASS had been compiled, saying Buhari would likely address Nigerians on the matter.
It was also learnt that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who held a closed-door meeting with members on the budget, got to know how bad the budget had been ‘treated’ and offered to undertake a review to avoid further altercation with the Presidency on the matter.
Dogara’s disposition, it was learnt, followed a meeting he had with a Minister who gave him a breakdown of the distortion done to the budget by members of the Appropriation Committees of the NASS.
It was gathered that the Speaker had undertaken to do whatever was needed to ensure the review of the budget to ensure its success when assented to by Buhari and give succor to Nigerians.
It was also learnt that, despite the tough stance of the Senate on the budget impasse, some leading members who had been briefed on how far the budget was “padded”, had opted to soften their stance and review the document in the national interest.
“All that the President wants is to give Nigerians a budget that will reflate the economy and something to cheer about,” a Minister told Sunday Vanguard.