18 May 2017

Nigeria: Buhari's Absence May Stall Presidential Assent to 2017 Budget

Photo: This Day
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo

Abuja — The needed presidential assent to the recently passed 2017 Appropriation bill may be delayed with the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari who is away on a medical follow-up in London, United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding Professor Yemi Osinbajo's assumption of office in acting capacity, the fiscal document passed by the National Assembly would await the decision of the entire cabinet before assent.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, ‎who gave the indication yesterday said the executive was still awaiting receipt of the passed budget, adding that a decision on who will sign the document would be taken when it is officially transmitted to the presidency.

"When it is transmitted to the Presidency, that decision will be taken," he said.Briefing State House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by the Acting President, Mohammed said Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma has since received an advanced copy of the 2017 budget and is currently studying it.

The budget minister, he explained, is expected to dispatch copies of the passed budget to cabinet members to ensure that there are no discrepancies in the figures sent by the executives to the National Assembly before presidential assent is given to the document.

Meanwhile, acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday failed again to swear in two new minister designates, Mr. Stephen Ocheni (Kogi State) and Suleiman Zanna Hassan (Gombe State), recently screened and confirmed by the Senate.

Ministers are usually sworn in and assigned portfolios a week after their confirmation by the upper legislative chamber.The swearing-in has not been scheduled on the acting President's weekly programme since he assumed his current role in the villa.

Asked when the two ministers would be sworn in, Mohammed said ‎"I can assure you they will be sworn in due course."The Council also announced approval of N46.15 billion for the augmentation of the Kashinbilla dam and hydro-power project in Taraba State.

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who briefed on the development, said N24 billion has so far been expended by the contractor on the project, which will create a buffer against flooding along the River Benue.

According to the minister, the multipurpose dam st‎arted in 2007 and currently 90 per cent completed will provide 40 megawatts of electricity and house a complete water treatment plant

"The contractor has spent more money and done more work than the actual augmentation. We have received commitment from the contractor that there will be no further review and that the project will be finished within the next 12 months," he assured.

Speaking on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) projects, Mohammed Bello said the infrastructure contracts include extension and rehabilitation of roads in Karu phase II development in Abuja where a sizeable number of people live.The project is extension of road network, rehabilitation of 31 roads in five sectors.

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