President Muhammadu Buhari has informed the National Assembly that there are no two versions of the 2016 Budget, and that the version he presented to its joint sitting on Tuesday, December 22, 2015, remains the authentic document.
He also affirmed that there is no plan to withdraw or substitute the Money Bill as being insinuated.
The president made these declarations in separate letters he wrote to the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, copies of which were sighted by LEADERSHIP yesterday.
In the letter dated Friday, January 15, 2016, Buhari also explained that at the time he submitted the draft Bill, accompanied by a schedule of details, the National Assembly was duly informed that the budget details had just been produced then and that the Executive would have to cross-check it to ensure that there are no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule.
According to him, the verification had been completed and the corrections had been subsequently submitted to the National Assembly, a development, he said, gave rise to the suspicion of the existence of different versions of the budget and the attendant confusion.
The president’s four-paragraph letter, whose content is to be revealed to lawmakers today at both the Senate and House of Representatives’ plenaries, is attached with the corrected version of the budget details, hence the National Assembly is expected to immediately begin work on the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The presidential communication reads in part: “The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion.
“In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft Bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures.”
This latest revelation by the president may have helped to dispel claims by the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, that the senior special assistant to the president on NASS Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, had attempted to smuggle a different version of the budget into the National Assembly other than the one presented by the president.