The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang delivered the 2017 Appropriation Bill to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa yesterday at a closed-door meeting, with an amendment to his earlier position on the man to sign the document.
Answering questions from journalists after the meeting, Enang said he had delivered the Appropriation Bill to the acting president as passed by the National Assembly.
According to him, the acting president has the full power of the president to assent to the budget within 30 days subject to the observance and completion of relevant procedural process.
“The budget as passed by the National Assembly has just been transmitted to the Acting President. I just delivered it. Let me use this opportunity to clarify an issue. The Acting President has the power to assent to the budget and he will assent to it when the processes are completed.
“In February, he assented to seven or eight bills. Those that he didn’t agree with, he wrote the Senate and House of Representatives that he had withheld his assent from them. He has the power of the president to assent to it. But the assent to the Appropriation Bill will be after the completion of the standard operation process.
“The bill has 30 days within which it will be assented to but the process can be completed within two or three days. So, it is not possible to say it will be assented to in so, so and so day or in two or three days.
“It’s upon the completion of the process that it will be assented to by the president and the president here now is the acting president,” he stated.
Enang’s clarification came on the heels of comments earlier credited to him that President Muhammadu Buhari would sign the budget even if it would imply sending it to him in London. He later denied making the comment.
Earlier, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, was under fire during the week following his comment during a briefing after last Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the federal government would decide who signed the budget when transmitted. “When it is submitted to the Presidency, that decision will be taken,” Mohammed had said.
His comment prompted a swift reaction from Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, on his Twitter handle @akandeoj that his principal would assent to the budget if he was satisfied with it. He had said: “When the time comes and if he’s satisfied, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo will sign the 2017 budget,” he tweeted.