President Muhammadu Buhari has formally written to the Nationally Assembly to request the withdrawal of the 2016 Appropriation Bill he presented to a joint session of the federal legislature on December 22. The President’s letter was addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, in it he stated that there was the need for adjustments in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The controversy over the “missing budget” or the “inconclusive budget” had gone viral on all media platforms last week. The unfortunate saga was discovered as the National Assembly resumed after a recess to begin deliberation on the budget.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang’s was adjudged as the culprit in the court of public opinion, as he was alleged to have adopted a sneaky approach in the pursuit of a legitimate objective.
It was clear that President Buhari knew nothing of the budget, and had discovered after presenting the 2016 budget to the National Assembly that some of the figures proposed for operations in the Presidency and the State House were being publicly criticized as outrageous and higher than those of his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan.
The figures for the subheads in the budget for the office of the president, vice president, and a few ministries, which went viral on the social media and had become a major topic of discussion on both the print and broadcast media, were a huge embarrassment to the perceived integrity and austere nature of President Buhari.
The president was said to have directed the recall of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly for review. This recall, ordinarily should have entailed a written request from the president to the National Assembly calling for the withdrawal of the budget, but his man-friday in the Senate, Senator Ita Enang engaged in a rather clandestine process of changing the budget figures. This process led to Nigerians labeling the Buhari led administration as a “Telemundo Government”.
The senate President had accused Enang of doctoring the contents of the 2016 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly by President Buhari. “What he distributed is different from what was presented by Mr. President and we have resolved not to address any version until we receive the version presented by Mr. President“. Senator Enang indicted in the court of Public opinion, refused to comment on the saga saying “The matter is a sensitive one”.
Investigation revealed that when Senator Ita Enang attempted to swap the original document, he tried to reach the Clerk of the Appropriation Committee by telephone but could not get through. He then placed a call the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Nelson Ayewoh, and told him how he had attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to reach the appropriation clerk to collect a document from him.
Mr. Nelson Ayewoh placed a call to the appropriation committee clerk and ask him to call Enang, but without knowing that the communication was in connection with the budget document.
When Senator Ita Enang appeared before the Senate committee, he denied ever communicating with both Ayewoh and the appropriation clerk over the budget. He also lied that he never had their numbers.
When reached by reporters to give an insight into the saga, he replied “I do not want to comment on the matter at the moment. It is a very sensitive matter involving two of my bosses – the National Assembly and Presidency. I don’t want to talk about them.”