By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—THE Office of the Acting President yesterday cleared the air over the assent of the 2017 budget affirming that it would be singed into law when and if the Acting President expresses satisfaction with the bill.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents earlier after the Federal Executive Council, FEC meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed also disclosed that ministers were studying the budget as passed by the National Assembly.
Spokesman to the Acting President, Mr. Laolu Akande in a tweet late last night said “Just so we are clear: when the time comes, everything is set and he is satisfied, Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo will assent to the 2017 budget.”
Briefing newsmen after the FEC meeting, Alhaji Mohammed said that an advanced copy of the budget had been received by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma.
According to Mohammed, Udoma is expected to make the advance copy available to other Ministers to compare with the estimates they originally sent to the National Assembly.
This, he said, was necessary to reconcile all anticipated discrepancies.
“In respect on the budget, it was only this morning (yesterday) that the Minister of National Planning informed the council that the budget had been passed. He has not sent to us individually copies of the passed budget. We now need to look at it against what we sent and if there are any discrepancies, we will report back to the Minister of Budget and National Planning on harmonization.
“But at least, the minister has received an advance copy of what was passed and that is what we need to look at and compare to what we sent. It has not been transmitted officially to the presidency,” he said.
Asked on the performance of the 2016 budget, Mohammed said that accurate information can only emanate from the Budget and National Planning Ministry.
“The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will make the implementation of the 2016 budget public. They have told us that about N1.2 trillion was released for capital,” he said.
On when the new cleared ministers would be sworn in, the Minister said, “I can assure you that they would be sworn in due course.”
The Minister also hinted that council interacted with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mamod Yakubu on the continuous Voters Registration.
“We invited the chairman of the INEC to address council on the ongoing Voters registration and to let the challenges he is facing. The import of the exercise and I think Council was satisfied with the presentation. First, he made it known that this is the first time that we are going to have a real continuous Voters Registration. Not the one that comes on before election or registration that goes on only in some parts of the country.
“He also explained why it was not possible for the exercise to be conducted on pooling unit basis because we have about 119,000 plus polling units. We need a minimum of five personnel to man each unit and the cost cannot be accommodated by their budget. Of course, the next preferred option would have been to take it to the local govt which again, because of paucity of funds, they could not accommodate. That’s why they are doing it at the local government basis.
“But the important thing is that it is continuous. It will go on in the next 90 days and then continue for another 90 days,” he said.