By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday handed over the 2014 Budget to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Director, Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, ordering both to commence implementation of the budget. The moves may have averted a looming crisis between the president and the National Assembly.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, while announcing the development, said Jonathan had actually signed the N4.6trillion 2014 Appropriation bill into law on Wednesday.
The President had earlier withheld his assent on the budget, citing the increment to the figures by the National Assembly as reason.
Abati’s explanation is coming on the heels of fresh hostility from the senate against Jonathan over the delay in assenting to the budget.
Only yesterday, the senate expressed anger over Jonathan’s delay in signing the budget, but instead found what they termed as ‘new strange’ budget on the Order Paper meant for their consideration.
The proposal which seeks for appropriation of funds for the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 50 other agencies of government generated anger among senators who demanded that Jonathan must signed the 2014 budget already passed in April.
Also, the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, recently blamed the legislature for the delay in the implementation of the budget almost mid-year into 2014, saying, some of its provisions as passed by the National Assembly, could impact negatively on the economy if implemented.
However, Abati said on Friday (today) that Okonjo-Iweala was not around when the President signed the budget two days ago, hence the need to formally hand over to her today.
According to him, “The President actually signed the 2014 Budget two days ago. But you know that the Minister of Finance was not in town. So he needed to hand over to her and the Director Budget for onward transmission. That was what he did today. The ministry will be addressing the press in the next one hour,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President, has travelled to Pretoria, South Africa to take part in a high-level discussion with other African Heads of State and Government on how to combat terrorism in Africa.
He is also scheduled to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma for second term.