Senators and members of the House of Representatives have rejected a plan to withdraw the troubled National Budget from their custody.
The budget had run into troubled waters shortly after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, 2015, with stories of doctoring, padding and injection of foreign contents doing the round at venues of budget defence at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Insiders at the National Assembly said last week that President Buhari who has ordered a probe into the budget padding and doctoring had planned to withdraw the budget such that a cleaner copy can be submitted to the National Assembly.
It was gathered that the idea of withdrawing the budget was made to the top echelon of the National Assembly which immediately rejected the idea.
Committee chairmen in the Senate and the House of Representatives told the presiding officers that the budget, once submitted can no longer be withdrawn and that it is the business of the National Assembly to give the nation an acceptable budget.
It was gathered that the Committee chairmen had insisted at different meetings with their presiding officers that the constitution only demands that the President shall cause budget estimates to be laid in the National Assembky and that it is the business of the National Assembly to produce a budget for the federation.
A member of the House of the Representatives, Hon Linus Okorie said last week that the lawmakers can no longer return the budget to the government..
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon Jibrin Abdumumin, said at a joint press conference last week that the National Assembly will be unable to keep the deadline for passing the budget fixed for February 25, in view of the several errors and padding discovered.
Senators also told Sunday Tribune that the lawmakers have resolved to produce a budget for the federation.
“What we have resolved to do is not to return the budget in view of constitutional provisions that empowers the National Assembly as the custodians of the budget. We have resolved to remove all the toxic items and break them down to proper subheads. The Committees are working with Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) to get the right figures,” a senator told Sunday Tribune.
Sources at the Assembly also told Sunday Tribune that the Presidency got its figures burnt in the budget process because it was handed over to a team of consultants who were not properly guided by the Budget office of the Federation.
It was gathered that the plan to introduce zero budget procedure was first toyed with and was adopted in the preparation of the budget but the plan, according to sources, snapped as the handlers got confused in the middle of the process.
It was also gathered that the budget handlers were forced to return to the envelop system after the plan to use the zero budget plan failed.
“The government put itself under a lot of pressure by starting the budget process late. When those consultants writing the budget got confused midway into their preparations based on zero budget, they quickly ran to the technocrats and adopted the envelop system. But in that process a lot of toxic items got into the budget and they just have to produce a document to the National Assembly before the year end of 2015, that was how the whole budget got messed up,” a lawmaker told Sunday Tribune.