The much awaited 2016 budget was Friday afternoon signed into law, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The most controversial budget in the history of democracy in Nigeria, was first riddled with mistakes and discrepancies in the original spending plan.
At the beginning, it has to sent back to the executive because according to Buhari it was ‘padded’. Then there was the controversy of two versions of the budget.
Buhari had last December 22 presented a 6.08 trillion naira (around $30-billion, 26.5-billion-euro) budget to parliament but Friday’s document was slightly lower at N6.06 trillion.
When the National Assembly finished its work, Buhari rejected signing with the accusation that the House distorted the the original sent to them.
At the brief ceremony in State House, Abuja, President Buhari was joined by the likes of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Others at the short signing ceremony held in the President’s office around 12 noon include Senate President, Bukola, Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang and Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawo.
Also at the ceremony were the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, Chairman House of Reps Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumuni Jubril.
Like a man who is throwing off a log of wood on his shoulders, Buhari said grinningly: “It is a great pleasure to sign the budget. It is a serious article of faith for the Nigerian people.
“The signing of the budget today will trigger concerted efforts to reflate the Nigerian economy, a key element of which is an immediate injection of 350 billion naira into the economy by way of capital projects.”
The budget for Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy is based on a price of $38 per barrel, slightly below the current global market rate of just over $40. Buhari delayed signing the budget after finding errors that civil society groups indicated possible graft, such as multiple purchases of the same vehicles, computers and other equipment.
The former military head of state, who has embarked on a widespread anti-corruption campaign since taking office last May, has claimed some lawmakers removed and replaced proposals. He has promised to punish those involved.
The delay contributed to the stagnation in Africa’s biggest economy caused by the slump in global oil prices, panicking investors already cautious about slowing growth and high inflation.
Buhari admitted on Friday that Nigeria was “experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our nation” but was pinning its hopes on the expansionary budget. The government is hoping to diversify the economy, produce more food, revive manufacturing and generate employment to stimulate growth.