Budget: National Assembly faults Buhari, insists on 6,576 extra projects

  • N’Assembly has power to drop, amend budget proposals – House spokesman
  • Lawmakers have no right to introduce projects, it is an anomaly, says Itse Sagay
  • Sagay did not speak from position of law, but lack of understanding – Senate


Members of the National Assembly have insisted on the amendments made to the 2022 Appropriation Bill, including the reduction of allocation to 10,733 projects and insertion of 6,576 new ones.

In supporting the President’s view on the reduction on the projects, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said it was illegal for the National Assembly to introduce projects into the budget proposal submitted by the President. He said, though while the legislative arm of government had the right to adjust figures and make amendments to the budget, it lacked the power to introduce new projects.


The Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu (APC/Abia), said, if there is any proposal from the executive to the lawmakers in the form of an appropriation bill, which is a proposal, such a proposal is not in itself in a final stage; a proposal is a work-in-progress.

“The National Assembly, which is a representative of the people, has to look at the proposals and determine which ones are acceptable and which ones will be dropped or amended – the ones that will be increased or reduced – in view of the current realities”.

“In view of the current realities, the parliament will always adjust a piece of legislation to reflect the needs of the people. And it is our duty to do that, not just the executive. Maybe at the time the executive did their proposal, those realities were different. But at the time of consideration by the National Assembly, we consider what the current reality is and work out a solution to bridge the gap based on the current reality.”


The House spokesman added that the incident showed that the National Assembly was not a “rubber stamp” after all as some people are saying.

The Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said, the National Assembly was empowered by the constitution to make amendments to budget proposals.

Senator Basiru also faulted Prof. Sagay for saying the National Assembly had no right to introduce projects to the proposal.

He said, “Prof Sagay should read Section 59 of the constitution to know the role of the National Assembly in appropriations. It is unfortunate if Prof Sagay said that and if indeed he said that, then he did not speak from a position of law but lack of understanding.”


But a member of the Appropriations Committee, Bamidele Salam (PDP/Osun), asked the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to give further details on the issues raised by the President, to clear air on “what projects does he have issues”. “We are not meant to be a ‘garbage in garbage out’ institution.

“In this case, in the wisdom of the National Assembly – 360 people representing federal constituencies and 109 representing senatorial districts – who have the ears of their people and who know the minds of the people they represent, have decided to amend or tinker with the budget in a manner that will reflect the aspirations of the people”.

“I think the executive should respect that decision and the fact that the National Assembly is a body empowered by the Nigerian Constitution to appropriate.

When asked if the budget could be made difficult to implement by the amendments, Salam pointed out that the National Assembly made the adjustments based on its knowledge of the economy.

“It cannot be a problem to implement. The National Assembly also has in its fold, people who are very knowledgeable about projects and the economy – about income and expenditure flows of the country; who have considered all these issues, including the implementation of whatever is being suggested. And once it is passed, it becomes a law. If it is a law, the Executive is bound to implement it,” he stated.

Also, Richard Gbande (PDP/Benue) stated that the National Assembly acted in line with constitutional provisions.

“Is it not our responsibility to look at budgets? As representatives of Nigerians, we have to do justice to it, most especially as the country is engulfed in security challenges. When it is tilted towards the critical areas to salvage the nation, I believe we have acted within our jurisdiction,” Gbade stated.

However, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Uroghide (PDP/Edo), said the Buhari-led executive is free not to implement projects considered not to be in the general interest of the public.

When asked if the inserted projects were for Nigerians, the Senator said, “I don’t know what the President has found, so I cannot fault him. He is the one that saw them: they were submitted to the President, they were not submitted to me. That is why I said I cannot say that the President is wrong.

“But when it comes to actual funding; when cash backing these projects, let the ones that are of national interest of the greater majority of Nigerians take priority. And then, the President can come up with a supplementary budget to correct those things; and re-introduce those things to the National Assembly.”

No crisis between Buhari, NASS over budget – Presidency

Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Sunday, made some clarifications on the President’s statement on the 6,576 projects.

Shehu said although Buhari disagreed with the insertion of the projects in the budget and other alterations, the presidential aide noted that” innumerable lies are being spread about the President being ‘angry’ at, had “blasted” or “lashed out” at the parliament. This cannot be farther from the truth.

Shehu recalled that the Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, said after the budget-signing ceremony, that disagreements as the ones listed by the President were normal in the everyday executive-parliamentary relationship.”


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