Less than 24 hours to the deadline issued by the National Assembly to President Goodluck Jonathan to either sign the 2013 Appropriation Bill into law or be vetoed, the president today bowed to the unshaken stand of the lawmakers and signed the budget.
The President had last year presented a budget proposal of N4.92 trillion for NASS approval. He however failed to sign the bill into law over some disagreements with the lawmakers who he accused of injecting some extra funds in excess of N63 billion into the budget in addition to other issues that border on Zero allocation to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), constituency project and fixing of oil benchmark.
The budget signing today was however devoid of the usual fanfare as it was obvious Mr Jonathan signed it grudgingly. In sharp contrast to the 2012 budget signing in front of cameras and in company of top state functionaries such as the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and a host of others, this year’s was devoid of that even as journalists initially invited were later driven out of the president’s conference room.
Two hours after journalists were ordered out, a press statement surfaced announcing that the president had signed the budget. The statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati reads:
“Following consultations and an agreement between the Executive and the Legislature on the 2013 Appropriation Bill, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan today signed the bill into law.
“President Jonathan wishes to reassure all Nigerians that the consultations have been in the best interest of the country, and in pursuit of understanding and mutual cooperation between both arms of government.
“As part of the understanding reached with its leadership, the observations of the executive arm of government about the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly will be further considered by the National Assembly through legislative action, to ensure effective and smooth implementation of the 2013 Appropriation Act in all aspects.
“The administration remains fully committed to the positive transformation of the country, and effective and efficient service delivery for the benefit of all citizens. All Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government have therefore been directed to work very hard to ensure that all the services, projects and programmes contained in the budget are successfully delivered on schedule in spite of the slight delay in its enactment”.