President Muhammadu Buhari reluctantly signed the N17.127 trillion 2022 Appropriation Bill into law yesterday after expressing deep concern about changes made to the budget by the National Assembly.

The president proposed a budget of N16.391 trillion to the National Assembly, but lawmakers increased it to N17.127 trillion.

At a brief ceremony in the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, the President also signed the 2021 Finance Bill. He also hinted that his administration would submit an amendment to the 2022 Appropriation Law to the legislative arm early in 2022 to address the National Assembly’s changes.

Buhari expressed strong reservations about the “worrisome changes” to the budget while signing the two documents in the presence of Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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According to Buhari, lawmakers reduced funding for some projects while adding 6,576 new projects to the 2022 budget.

He stated that as soon as the National Assembly reconvened, he would submit a request for amendment to ensure that critical ongoing projects vital to the administration did not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.

“I signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to begin on January 1, 2022,” the President said.

In this regard, I must express my reservations about many of the amendments made by the National Assembly to the Executive Budget proposal for 2022.

“Here are a few of the alarming changes: Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue of N400 billion, for which the Executive has yet to receive justification. Without explanation, the provision for the Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds was reduced by N22 billion.

“Provisions for the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy’s Non-Regular Allowances have been reduced by N15 billion and N5 billion, respectively.

Because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal rolls and approved salaries/allowances, this is particularly concerning.

“Furthermore, the Overhead budgets of some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) were increased by N21.72 billion, while the provision for some MDAs was cut by N1.96 billion without apparent justification.

“A net increase of N575.63 billion in the provision for capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion.”

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President Buhari also expressed concern about budget cuts to some critical projects, including N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for ongoing Rail Modernisation projects, N25.8 billion from the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning’s Power Sector Reform Program, N14.5 billion from several Ministry of Agriculture projects, and the introduction of over 1,500 new projects into this Ministry’s and its agencies’ budgets.

The President expressed his displeasure with the “Inclusion of new provisions totaling N36.59 billion for National Assembly projects in the Service Wide Vote,” which he believes violates the separation of powers and financial autonomy of the legislative branch.

“The changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.”Provisions for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced, while the National Assembly introduced 6,576 new projects into the budget.

“The National Assembly’s cuts in funding for several of these projects, particularly some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects, may make them unworkable or delay their completion.”

“The majority of the projects inserted appear to be poorly conceptualized, designed, and costed, and they relate to matters that are primarily the responsibility of state and local governments.”
According to the President, the 2022 Budget allocates N17.127 trillion in total expenditures, an increase of N735.85 billion over the initial Executive Proposal of N16.391 trillion.

However, N186.53 billion of the increase came from additional critical expenditures that the President had directed the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to submit to the National Assembly.

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“The Minister will make the details of the budget as passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by me available to the public,” he said.

Because the 2023 Budget will be a transition budget, Buhari stated that work will begin immediately to ensure the timely submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

As a result, he directed MDA heads to work with the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, specifically the Budget Office of the Federation, to achieve this critical goal.

Regarding COVID-19 and budget implementation, the President stated that, despite the pandemic’s lingering negative effects, he was pleased with the progress made in implementing the 2021 Budget.
President Buhari praised the National Assembly’s patience and quick action in this matter.

President Buhari promised that the federal government would increase revenue mobilization efforts to meet the laudable goals of the 2022 Budget.

Given the positive global oil market outlook and the continued improvement in non-oil revenues, he expressed confidence in the government’s ability to finance the budget.

“I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community at large to pay their taxes on time,” Buhari said.

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The specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly, as it is a deficit budget.

“I expect the National Assembly to work with me to expedite consideration and approval of the Plan once it is submitted,” he says. “All borrowings will be prudently used and invested in our future growth and prosperity.”

Lawan is a lawyer who defends legislators.

The Senate President has stated that the National Assembly was correct in its decision to tamper with Budget 2022.
Shortly after the President signed the budget, Lawan spoke at the Presidential Villa.
“I believe the most important thing is that Mr. President is pleased with the majority of the work done by the National Assembly,” he said. That is the most important thing for us to concentrate on.

“As for Mr. President’s observations, this is a natural and logical tendency between the executive and legislative branches. Our opinions on certain issues may differ from those of the executive.

“As a result, I don’t believe what the President did in making some observations is something we should be concerned about.” In the first place, I’m glad the President signed the budget. He also stated that it will be sent back to the National Assembly for amendments or virement. This is a logical and natural legislative procedure.

“I believe the National Assembly made the correct decision, but there’s nothing wrong with the executive branch of government returning to the National Assembly to see how we can dialogue and work through the process to figure out where the misunderstandings are.” But I don’t believe that’s supposed to be a cause for concern for us.”
Lawan went on to say that government-owned enterprises should contribute twice as much money as the N500 billion budgeted revenue.

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“This is based on judgments, which is why we requested more resources from independent sources, particularly from government-owned enterprises, in the range of N400 billion to N500 billion, because we believe they should contribute even more.” In fact, I believe they should have contributed at least a trillion dollars, not just N500 billion.”

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