Unknown to President Muhammadu Buhari, the delay in the passage of the 2018 Budget bill into lawwas due to the snubbish attitude of his own appointees who would not go and defend their budget figures with federal lawmakers.
The budget is already 76 days late off the starting block as some groups, believed to be acting at the behest of the Executive, are threatening lawmakers. Their banners, lashing out at the lawmakers for the budget passage delay, are appearing in parts of the city.
Meanwhile, Buhari is said to have threatened to sack any head of agency that does not go to defend his budget.
Nearly 50 of them, including ministers, are said to be guilty of this misdemeanour.
Journalists were given an insight by a source into what transpired at last Thursday night’s meeting between the President and leaders of the National Assembly.
“You know that the budget delay, by popular sentiment, is being blamed on the National Assembly. They defended themselves very well before the President that ministers and chief executive officers have not been coming to the National Assembly to defend their budgets.
“They cited some ministers like the Minister of Power, Works and Housing that he has not gone to defend his budget up until now. I am sure you have also been following the exchanges between them and the Minister of Solid Minerals.
“The President was extremely unhappy with what he heard. His directive to the SGF was that they should start fishing out chief executives who fail to defend their budget, because he was told that out of about 60 of them, only about 10 have appeared. He has asked that ministers should supervise them. It is a serious issue.
“He made it clear that by the time people are being sacked, there will be sanity….
“Leaders of the National Assembly discussed the budget with the President. The President did not have full information that officials in the executive have been responsible for the delay. He thought the National Assembly was frustrating the passage but they told him they were not.
“The National Assembly leadership showed him the list of MDAs that have yet to come forward for budget defence or provide details of their budgets to the relevant committees. He was informed that about 70 per cent of the MDAs had not been cooperating with the legislature. The President was surprised.
“This is why the President ordered the SGF to issue a memo to all the MDAs, asking them to comply with National Assembly’s demands within one week. He wants everything to be sorted out within the time frame,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the Government’s Secretary, Mr. Boss Mustapha, gave a measure of confirmation to the source’s disclosures when he told newsman that the President President had given an instruction that all ministers and parastatals should ensure that they appear before the National Assembly to defend their submissions so that we can get this out of the way.
“You know this is a very dynamic year and there are preparations for elections and we are having quite a lot of security challenges and so if we don’t appropriate, where will the money come from?” Mustapha asked.