An alleged discovery of strange projects in the second version of the budget 2016 document brought by the presidency to the National Assembly was responsible for its rejection, the Senate declared yesterday.
The Senate Majority Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who briefed journalists at the National Assembly, disclosed that the second budget document failed a series of integrity tests carried out on it by the Senate.
He confirmed that the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, would today unveil the contents of a letter sent to the upper legislative chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari. But Ndume refused to disclose the letter’s content.
The Senate last Thursday rejected the replacement of the original version submitted to it by Buhari.
Saraki, who announced the decision of the Senate to reject the second version of the budget, had said: “We have received the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on investigations surrounding 2016 Appropriation Bill. Our finding is that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Senator Ita Enang, printed copies of the 2016 Appropriation Bill and brought to the Senate.
“We have discovered that what he brought is different from the version presented by Mr. President. We have resolved to consider only the version presented by Mr. President as soon as we receive a soft copy of the original document from the Executive,” he added.
But providing further details on how the second budget document contradicted the original one, Ndume said that the few copies of the budget proposal document earlier submitted to the Senate were thoroughly compared with the copies that were later brought by the presidency and it was discovered that there were differences.
He explained that some projects which were not included in the budget document before were smuggled in to cater for certain hidden interests.
“What we tried to do was to make a comparative analysis. The difference is not in the sub-total or sectorial allocation. The Senate did integrity check and found out that in some cases a certain amount of money was allocated to do two projects and because of integrity check, they found out that more projects were included in what that amount was voted for initially.
“But what I can tell you now is that on the budget that was submitted originally, there were certain integrity checks on it that made some changes in the quantity of projects but not in the total amount of money voted.”
He continued: “As at present, there are two documents and they are before the Senate. We are telling you now that we are taking the first one; we left the second one because we think it’s not good for Nigeria.”
Ndume lamented that the crisis generated by the fake budget issue might delay the Senate’s plan to get the budget passed before the end of February.
“We were targeting end of February to round off on the budget if not for this mix up. However, we are still committed to turning out the budget on time.”