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2016 Budget: Buhari is Not Listening to Udo Udoma – Senator Owie

Former Senate Whip, Senator Rowland Owie yesterday took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari for saying that he will not sign the 2016 Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly into law, just as he warned that failure to assent to the bill would amount to starting a new budget presentation exercise.

In a report by Vanguard on Tuesday, Senator Owie said President Buhari has no right to tamper with the approved budget as submitted by the National Assembly, adding that he should go ahead and assent to it, stressing that refusal to sign it and remove any line from the already approved budget, would amount to taking the country to yet another five months of going through a fresh presentation, first reading, second reading, Committee stage, among others.

Senator Owie who told President Buhari to sign and work with the approved budget, then send amendment to the National Assembly on some grey areas, stressed that both the National Assembly and the state houses of assembly are by law permitted to reintroduce new items into the appropriation bill, they can reduce the amount of decrease or remove it totally to zero level.

He said, ”I want to advise Mr. President to go ahead and assent to the budget after that whatever he feels he wants to do, he can then send it back to the National Assembly while he is scrutinizing if and if he does not do that and he goes ahead to change a line of the budget, it will take another five months, it will start afresh from first reading to second reading to committee level. ”

Mr. President should note that he can never get a budget the way it was sent to NASS or state Assembly, NASS has the right to re- introduce new items into the budget, right to reduce the amount, or decrease or remove it totally, it is the function of the National Assembly, no one can do that. If the president changes anything, he has to return the budget again to NASS, it will start again from first reading to second reading to committee stage.

“If he tampers with it, he has to return it to NASS and start from zero point meaning that this year, we may not have a budget and in view of the above, I ask the President to assent to the budget and start implementing those areas he has no problem with, the begin to look at others and if he does not do this, he will run Nigeria into crisis.

“My worry is that Mr. President is not listening to advise from the Minister of Budget and National Planning and a former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and his Special Assistant, Senator Ita Enang who is also very knowledgeable on National Assembly matters or is it that he may not be taking their inputs.”

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