Attempts by newsmen to get the true position of the clean copy of the 2016 budget passed by the National Assembly, which is yet to be transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent, almost got them into trouble on yesterday.
The enraged Chairman, Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Danjuma Goje could barely contain his anger when Senate Correspondents went to his office to confirm the true status of the Bill.
On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari refused assent to the budget insisting that he wants to see the entire breakdown of allocations as approved in the budget, not the highlights as dispatched to him.
The angry Senator shocked not a few persons when he stormed out of his inner office on hearing about the arrival of newsmen who came to seek clarifications from him and chased them away.
In a fit of anger, he shouted at the newsmen, speaking in Hausa saying “Wa ya Kira su, Wa ya kira su, Wa ya kira ku”, meaning, who called them? “Who called you”, and thereafter, shut the door against them in anger.
Against the claims by the National Assembly that the budget has been transmitted to the Presidency, Independent gathered authoritatively that the clean copy of the budget had yet to be ready.
A source at the Senate told this newspaper that it might take about two weeks before the document could be ready, adding that the legislative institution is still putting finishing touches to the document.
It was also learnt that the National Assembly transmitted highlights of the budget to President Muhammadu Buhari only for his information with the plan to transmit the full budget when it concludes work on it.
However, the legislative institution was said to have erred by merely transmitting highlights of the document without giving any explanation on why it did so, a development which led to a reaction from the Presidency that the document could not be assented to.
It was also learnt that the National Assembly could have saved itself the accusation and embarrassment from the Presidency if it had sent a note to the president that it was tidying up the budget and would transmit it to him soon.
But the lawmakers were said to have failed to explain the true picture of the situation to the Presidency, thus giving rise to insinuation that the National Assembly was playing on the president’s intelligence.
Some Senators were seen at the office of Senator Goje yesterday ostensibly to continue work on the document.
Among those seen were the Vice Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, Deputy Chief Whip and a member of the committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena.
The meeting confirmed findings that works were yet to be concluded on the budget because it is against the norm of bills’ passage for members to keep meeting on a bill after it had been duly passed.
In normal circumstances, the clerk of the committee would forward the bill to the Senate president after it had been certified okay by the legal department for his signature.
The senate president would thereafter send it back to the Clerk of the Senate who would in turn forward it to the Clerk of the National Assembly and thereafter transmit it to the president for his assent.
Efforts also made to speak with Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, yielded no fruit as his line did not go through.