Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, yesterday told New Telegraph that his office had taken delivery of a preview copy of the revised 2016 Appropriation Bill.
Enang, who spoke to New Telegraph correspondent on the phone, could not, however, confirm when exactly the document would reach the desk of the president for his final approval and signing into law.
He, however, gave assurance that Nigerians would be happy soon, an indication that the processes must have largely been concluded by the Joint Committee set up to review the budget and fine tune its grey areas.
“We are just about to take delivery of the first copy for preview from the Committee of the National Assembly. We are like walking very closely to the end of the exercise.
So, Nigerians will be very happy in the next few hours. I will not be categorical about whether the President will get it tonight or tomorrow (today) but I just want to let you know that we have just taken delivery of the preview copy and Nigerians will be very happy, very soon,” Enang said.
It could be recalled that a 15-man committee was set up last Wednesday by the leadership of the National Assembly to interface with another fiveman committee from the executive to harmonise all the grey areas identified by the presidency in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The 15-man committee, which has five members of the House of Representatives, five members from the Senate as well as the five members from the executive, was expected to finish its assignment on or before yesterday to facilitate the transmission of the final budget to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent later this week.
The Joint Committee on the review of the budget was unable to beat the deadline apparently due to the enormity of the assignment and the need to avoid submitting a hurriedly prepared document with avoidable mistakes that could trigger another row.
New Telegraph gathered last night that members of the committee were still working on the grey areas, which made the president to earlier withhold his assent.
It was further gathered that the committee may round off its assignment today to enable it transmit same to the president.
A member of the committee confirmed to our correspondent last night that “we’re working round the clock to ensure that before midnight today (Monday) all the differ ences have been properly ironed out.”
She said: “Immediately we achieve this, we’ll transmit it to the executive arm for the president’s assent.”
According to her, “nobody is happy about the delay so far, but there is a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel.” Asked to list the grey areas, she simply said:
“I can’t do that now, but all the areas enumerated by the executive is being touched and streamlined to perfection. “The way we are working on it now, within the next 24 hours we may just hit our target of Monday.”
Also yesterday, a senior aide to the president confirmed to our correspondent that the amended version was not before the president.
He said: “I am right now at the State House, but nothing has been sent here. We are still expecting, but as you can see, it is almost 6:48 p.m. and nothing is here.
So, certainly, it won’t be today (Monday).”