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REPORT | #MissingBudget: ‘Buhari Did Not Submit a Copy of the 2016 Budget to NASS’

Contrary to claims that the hard and soft copies of the 2016 budget documents President Muhammadu Buhari handed over to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015, were stolen from the National Assembly, President Buhari never submitted the documents in the first place emerging details are revealing.

A top source at the Nigerian Senate who did not want to be named disclosed to SIGNAL on Tuesday that if the said document was presented on the floor of the National Assembly, the original soft and hard copies of the document never made it to the leadership of the National Assembly.

“We took it for granted that the President submitted the document and the original soft and hard copies were received by the relevant administrative channels only to discover today that the documents never made it to the Senate President’s office. But as I speak to you, there is no evidence in our records that President Buhari submitted those documents. What is going on is quite strange. It is either the President withdrew the document before it was formally entered into the records of the National Assembly or for some mischievous reason, someone made away with the documents. But one thing is clear, there is no evidence whatsoever that those documents were officially received by the relevant document channels of the National Assembly”, the source said.

Efforts to contact the Nigerian Presidency have proved abortive. Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu would not take his calls. When contacted, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina declined comments, asking our reporter to contact Senator Ita Enang who also could not be reached at the time of filing this report.

Another informed source on the missing budget scandal who pleaded anonymity told SIGNAL on Tuesday that the original soft and hard copies of the budget document were quickly withdrawn by President Buhari after serious public outcry mounted by Nigerians who described portions of the budget as outrightly outrageous and inconsistent with a government that wanted to cut costs in spending. “The budget was quickly smuggled out of the National Assembly by the Presidency in order to allow them make adjustments after the public bashing President Buhari received over some areas of the budget that were allegedly inflated”, the source said.

It will be recalled that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had described the N6.8 trillion 2016 federal budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari as a big fraud and executive conspiracy tailored towards mortgaging the future of the nation.

The party queried President Buhari’s decision to borrow N2 trillion, the biggest in the history of the nation as the height of recklessness and deceit from a government that trends on propaganda.

READ: PDP Says Buhari’s 2016 Budget is a Big Fraud

Reacting to details of the budget proposal, Nigerians had taken to the social media to condemn President Buhari’s excessive spending plan in the 2016 budget as details of the budget breakdown filtered into the public.

Using the hashtag, #BudgetOfYams, a wide section of Nigerians raised concerns over what they described as flamboyant government spending coming at a time the President had severally lamented that Nigeria is broke.

READ: #BudgetOfYams: Nigerians Lambast Buhari’s 2016 Budget Proposal [TWEETS]

Figures emerging from the budget proposal had revealed that the presidential convoy alone would gulp the sum of N5,095,017,785. According to the figures from the budget, N202,328,275 will be spent on the maintenance of motor vehicles.

READ: 2016 Budget: Buhari to Spend N5 Billion on Presidential Convoy [DETAILS]

But in another development, online newspaper Sahara Reporters claimed that the budget was not missing. According to the newspaper in a set of tweets on Tuesday, President Buhari secretly withdrew the budget from the National Assembly after some discrepancies were observed in the budget. This was made possible with the connivance of the National Assembly in order to avoid embarrassing President Buhari, the newspaper alleged.

But in a set of tweets on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu denied flatly that President Buhari withdrew the document, leaving more room for confusion as to the true position of what actually happened to the document.

President Buhari had on December 22,2015 presented a N6.08 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2016 to a joint session of the National Assembly.

Copies were however not distributed to lawmakers before they proceeded on Christmas and New Year holidays.

But weeks after the budget was presented to lawmakers, there were speculations that Mr. Buhari had withdrawn the documents to enable him to correct some discrepancies, a claim the presidency and the national planning ministry denied at the time. Tuesday’s denial by Garba Shehu seems to be consistent with the Presidency’s position that the document was never withdrawn by President Buhari.

Meanwhile, in swift reaction to the missing budget scandal, Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday ordered the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate the circumstances that led to the missing budget. The committee, SIGNAL gathered completed its task on Tuesday and is due to present its report on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.

 

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Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.




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