The 2019 Appropriation Bill was signed into law on Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari in a ceremony that had the leaderships of the executive and national assembly in attendance.
The N8.92 trillion budget which was signed by the president is an increase over his original proposal of N8.83 trillion by almost N100 billion. As usual, President Buhari was not pleased that the national assembly tampered with what he sent.
- “I proposed a total expenditure of N8.83 trillion to the National Assembly for appropriation targeting strategic and impactful projects and initiatives. However, the 2019 Budget I will be signing into law today provides for aggregate expenditures of N8.92 trillion. This is an increase of N90.33 billion over our submission,” he said at the signing.
- “This increase reflects changes introduced by the National Assembly. In some areas, expenses we proposed were reduced while in other areas they were increased. There were also certain areas where new additions were introduced into the budget. Of course, some of these changes will adversely impact our programs making it difficult for us to achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).”
This is not the end of the matter: Buhari emphasised that even though he was signing the budget, he intended to “engage with the leadership of the ninth National Assembly, as soon as they emerge, to address some of our concerns with this Budget.”
Bottomline: The national assembly has the law on its side; it has the powers to alter the budget. The president needs to find better ways of engaging with lawmakers, explaining priorities of his budget before hand and getting them on board to own it. Otherwise, he would continue to lament year after year.