By Babajide Okeowo
President Muhammadu Buhari while signing the 2022 Appropriation Bill of N17.126 trillion into law expressed displeasures with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.
President Buhari highlighted some of the worrisome changes in the budget to include an increase in projected Federal Government independent revenue by N400 billion, reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion, and reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively; all without any explanation.
He also expressed his reservations on the inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote, which he said negated the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.
The President was also concerned about the changes to the original Executive proposal in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects, as well as reduction of the provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects and the introduction of 6,576 new projects into the budget.
According to him, most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of state and local governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed, and cost.
President Buhari said he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for an amendment as soon as the lawmakers return from their recess, to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to his administration do not suffer a setback as a result of reduced funding.
He recounted that during the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill, he stated that the 2022 fiscal year would be very crucial in his administration’s efforts to complete and put to use critical agenda projects, as well as improve the general living conditions of Nigerians.
The President insisted that the cuts by the lawmakers could render the implementation of the budget impossible.
He promised to commence early preparation of the 2023 transition budget and quickly begin the process to ensure early submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.