Controversies Surrounding The Missing 2016 Budget
On Tuesday, January 12, 2016 the 2016 Appropriation Bill was presumed missing. The viral spread of this news put to a halt the plenary session of the Senate, as the document which was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, 2015. Now the controversies revolve around the various statements by our leaders in position and their knowledge or the absence of it as regards the budget.
According to Channels TV ” Speculations rose when a federal lawmaker who spoke on the grounds on anonymity told Channels Television that there were fears that the 2016 budget had disappeared from the National Assembly“. According to Guardian the Leader of the Senate Mohammed Ali Ndume stunned his colleagues when he told them that both the hard and soft copies of the 2016 budget had been stolen. The immediate reaction of this news was a closed door meeting between the Senate President Bukola Saraki and President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Leadership, the chairman of the Senate committee on media and publicity, Senator Abdullahi Sabi said ” So it is not true that the budget is missing; it is a rumour. We deal with facts here and the fact is that no budget is missing,” whilst explaining that the budget was created to enhance and drive he change this present administration has promised to bring.
Meanwhile, Senate spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, in an interview with Channels Television said he was not aware that the 2016 budget was missing. “To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any missing budget. What we discussed today is how we are going to work assiduously, as Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to consider the budget as submitted by the president. As far as I am concerned, that story does not hold water. We were expecting copies to be printed and sent to the National Assembly but there was a bit of delay. As at yesterday, I can confirm to you that the Appropriation Committee in the House received a lot of copies of the budget. By the time the Clerk counted it today, it was not sufficient to go round members. I spoke with the Minister of Planning earlier today [Tuesday] and he assured me that before the end of today he will deliver the remaining copies. For the soft copy I also reminded him and he sent it to me and I handed it over to the House,” he explained.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described the reports as “an incredible and award winning April fool stunt.’ Dogara who took to his Twitter handle, @ said: “1st April arrived too early this year on Twitter. 2016 Budget estimates stolen at NASS? Pretty funny stuff!”
“It’s an incredible and award winning April fool stunt. The budget is in the custody of the Clerk to the House of Representatives. I can confirm no one has broken into his office. Each of the two Houses got a copy of the Budget estimate,” said the speaker.
Senior Special Assistant Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, the bill is no longer the property of the President once it has been submitted, he also dismissed reports of the President withdrawing the bill ” Nobody except the President can withdraw the budget. As far as we know, he hasn’t done that. The copies in their hundreds have been delivered to both chambers of the National Assembly.By tradition, once the budget is submitted, it ceases to be our property..Enquiries as to where it is should be directed to the appropriate quarters. Best regards”
Our question is, who is telling the truth?
Can we see a physical proof of the bill?
Why are we getting so much conflict as regards to the whereabouts of the bill?
Although Nigerians have taken a funny twist to this matter, it is actually very important as this bill affects every facet of the country.