By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—FOUR months after President Muhammudu Buhari presented before a joint session of the National Assembly a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, strong indications have emerged that its passage by lawmakers will be stormy.
It was gathered that lawmakers are already divided on whether the budget should be returned to the executive or panel-beaten and just passed, even as many are aggrieved that the implementation of 2017 budget is so poor and feared that it would affect the approval of 2018 budget.
A source told Vanguard ,yesterday, that the passage of the budget forms a major problem for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, especially on how to carry everyone on board as well as first convince senators elected on the platform of the party.
This is because of the frosty relation between the senators and the party. There is also the problem of how to convince the opposition senators in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
A very senior party member and a principal officer of the National Assembly, who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity simply said: “We are having serious problem in our party, the leadership is far from party members, especially the lawmakers.
“You can see that it took the party a very long time before it decided to meet with us at the National Assembly, there is no synergy, there is no avenue for us to discuss issues before they are brought to the National Assembly.
‘’There is no national caucus meeting, our major problem now is how we can convince our colleagues to pass the 2018 Appropriation bill.”
But when Vanguard asked of the position of 2018 budget, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), said: “The budget’s being processed by various sub committees of appropriations with concurrent oversight of 2017 implementation and budget Defence by the MDAs.”
President Buhari had on November 7, 2017, presented before a joint session of the National Assembly a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, which represented 16 percent increase of the N7.298 trillion budget of 2017.
It will be recalled that the Senate at resumption of Legislative proceedings, lampooned President Buhari for presenting before them the 2018 Appropriation bill, which had been fully padded, full of inaccuracies, errors, and inconsistencies.