A former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, has thrown his weight behind acting President Yemi Osinbajo in the ongoing row between Osinbajo and the National Assembly over the 2017 budget.
Jibrin is currently on suspension over his N40bn budget padding allegations against the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, and three other top officials of the House.
The others are the Deputy Speaker, Mr Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Mr Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
The officials are undergoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged insertions, which Jibrin said were made into the 2016 budget.
Reacting on Monday to the latest row over the 2017 budget, Jibrin stated that Osinbajo was correct in saying that the National Assembly should not have introduced new projects into the budget, which did not originally come from the executive.
He recalled that Osinbajo only signed the budget into law after he extracted a commitment from the National Assembly to make necessary adjustments after the signing.
According to reports, the National Assembly had created the new projects by cutting money from the votes of projects already included in the budget by the executive.
Among the new projects are roads, health centres and water projects like boreholes, which were not in the original executive proposals.
But Jibrin said Osinbajo made a mistake by signing the budget, trusting that the National Assembly would keep to its reported promise.
He claimed that the National Assembly goaded him to act, knowing that once Osinbajo signed, it had become a law that must be implemented.
Jibrin added that this was the reason former Presidents, including Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Umar Yar’Adua, refused to sign the budget before adjustments were made by the National Assembly.
He also recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the 2016 budget until the legislature had removed many of the new projects that were inserted into it.
Jibrin stated further, “No President was ready to take the risk with the National Assembly, but Osinbajo did, as it appeared like striking a deal with an untrustworthy partner.
“Whether this seeming pact is calculated or not is left for time and the scrutiny of vigilant and critical Nigerians to determine. What is obvious, however, is that the acting President has played into the hands of the National Assembly.
“What the acting President has given to the National Assembly is a victory it has never had in the budget process since 1999, understandably to strengthen the relationship between the two frequently hostile arms of government.
“So, he deserves a reciprocal gesture and an unmistakable friendship from the lawmakers, not attacks and threats.”
However, the former appropriation chairman noted that both the National Assembly and Osinbajo had the options of correcting the budget through either supplementary budget or virement.
He said, “The National Assembly should know that how it handles this historic concession granted it by the executive under the guide of acting President Osinbajo will determine the approach of the executive arm in future budget negotiations.”