Tension as Senate Passes 2017 Budget Today
By Dipo Olowookere
There is anxiety among Nigerians ahead of the expected passage of the 2017 appropriation bill by the Senate today, Thursday, May 11, 2017.
The 2017 budget, worth N7.30 trillion, was presented to the joint National Assembly in December 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The documents detailing how government should run the country for the 2017 fiscal year were supposed to be passed before the end of March this year, but that never happened.
The passage was later shifted to the end of April, but that deadline was also never met.
The legislature accused the executive of frustrating the passage of the 2017, especially after some police officers raided the residence of Senator Danjuma Goje, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
The Senate alleged that the security operatives went away with the 2017 budget during the raid at Mr Goje’s Abuja house. It reportedly took the intervention of the President to get the police to return all seized documents and items to the lawmaker.
This week Tuesday, the Senate was expected to finally pass the budget but it postponed it till today.
Many Nigerians are expecting the 2017 budget to be passed today by the Senate so as to get the country on its feet, especially now that the nation is gradually leaving recession.
If eventually passed today by the lawmakers, the 2017 budget would be transmitted to the President for his assent to set the ball rolling.
However, another issue some observers are worried about is getting the President to sign the 2017 budget, especially now that he is in London for a medical follow-up.
When he was leaving on Sunday, the President said his stay in London would be determined by his doctors, though he transmitted powers to his Vice, Mr Yemi Osinbajo.
Even if the budget is passed today by the Senate, the executive would still have to scrutinise the documents for possible changes before signing it into law.
Last year, after the Senate passed the 2016 budget and sent to the President for assent, it was returned because of several changes made by the lawmakers which the executive was not happy with. It is expected that such would not repeat itself this year.