2016 Budget Too Important For A Rude Joke

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A bewildered nation woke up three days ago to be told that the Appropriation Bill (2016 budget) submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari himself with fanfare has suddenly disappeared from the hallowed Chambers.

The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, announced this to confused senators during a closed – door session. The House of Representatives, on its part, claimed that the document is in their possession, intact, and that they were ready to commence deliberations on it. Even the Minister of National Planning and Budget, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, joined the fray and denied that the bill was missing.

Initially, it looked like the now familiar squabble between the two chambers until another dimension was brought into the matter that is turning into a huge embarrassment to the nation. It is revealing how unserious we are capable of becoming as a people on issues that touch on the very nerve centre of our lives.

The news making the rounds is that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Ennang, submitted a fake copy of the budget to the National Assembly. Already, President Buhari and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki have met to sort the matter out. However, Saraki is insisting on having the electronic copy of the document submitted by the President so that he can make copies for his members himself. That is how sordid the whole matter is about getting to.

A former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Soludo, was reported to have alleged that the 2016 budget is, indeed, a poor copy of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s last budget. How true is yet to be ascertained.

But suffice it to add that economic analysts are beginning to speculate that Soludo’s observation could be accurate and that it might have been the reason why the original copy of Buhari’s budget was surreptitiously withdrawn by Senator Ennang in order to effect the needed changes in some undesirable portions of it. It is also believed that the presidential aide dared to fool the nation because, as a former senator, he had hoped to get away with it banking on the cooperation of his erstwhile colleagues. Now, that expensive joke, if that is what it was intended to be, has backfired.

The question on the lips of most Nigerians is, was the president part of it? Could it have been the reason for the rushed meeting between him and Saraki, to hush it? What role, if any, did the Budget ministry play in the emerging show of shame?

We think that Senator Udo Udoma can do better than just denying that the Appropriation Bill was missing. Considering the importance of the document in question, if it is eventually confirmed that Senator Ennang played some foul game on it, then he should be shown the way out of that office. It is this kind of under the table deals he and others like him indulged in within the ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that created the mess Buhari is striving to clean up.

Perhaps, it is imperative to point out that budgets in all countries are sacred policy documents and are treated as such. Often, it is off limits for politicking because investors, foreign and local, base their decisions on its provisions.

Culled from: http://leadership.ng/opinions/editorial/492248/2016-budget-important-rude-joke

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