President Muhammadu Buhari may be on collision course with the National Assembly over major alterations to the budget that he has described as "not properly conceptualized, designed and costed" and "therefore difficult to execute".
Although the President signed the 2018 appropriation bill into law on Wednesday, he revealed that the only reason he did it was that he did not want “to further slow down the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget".
The President made this known via his offcial Twitter handle after he signed the 2018 budget into law at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday.
In November 2017, Buhari passed a proposed budget of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly for deliberation. However, six months later, he received the appropriation bill from the lawmakers, featuring the addition of 6,403 projects of their own, which apparently hasn't gone down well with the President.
Expressing concerns about the changes made in the proposed budget he submitted to the National Assembly, Buhari said: “The logic behind the constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that it is the Executive that knows & defines its policies & projects.
"Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me. The National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.
“As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the states and local governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows: Provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counterpart funding for Mambilla Power Plant, 2nd Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway & Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail were cut by an aggregate of N11.5bn.
"At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira."
"The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira, which will further delay the completion of this critical project. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira."
"About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly."
"Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance. An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive."
President Buhari added that "notwithstanding the above-stated observations," he had "decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slow down the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget".
Although the budget has now been signed, it is not clear if the Executive will implement it to the letter, especially in light of the President's misgivings with the alterations.