The presidency has described the drama surrounding the 2016 budget as “laughable.”
The 2016 budget drama took another twist yesterday, January 14, when the Senate president, Bukola Saraki disclosed that they had two versions of the budget.
According to him, presidential liaison officer, Ita Enang, printed a different version from the copy laid by President Buhari on Tuesday, December 22, before a joint session of the National Assembly.
Though the difference between Enang and the president’s version was not disclosed, Saraki said the Senate will not consider the budget until the version presented by Buhari is made available to senators.
Speaking on the issue, Sumaila Kawu, the House presidential liaison officer said, to Buhari, the drama over the budget is “laughable”, as the president cannot direct his agents to “steal” the document, The Nation reports.
He said: “It is a surprise to us and Mr President in particular; it is laughable. We just laughed when we heard of it.
“Being a joint sitting, Mr President laid one document on the floor; then it is for the Budget Office or National Planning Commission (NPC) to make copies.
“In this case, once it was laid, the Clerk of the National Assembly locked the document in his office because of the time of the year; it was holiday period and the lawmakers were going on holiday. The confusion might have been as a result of that.”
He wondered why the presidency was being dragged into the matter.
Kawu explained that if the president wanted to withdraw the document, he was aware of the options he could explore to do so, adding that he had no reason to smuggle the document out of the Senate.
He added that the accusation against Enang was “unfair,” saying: “Enang is a hands-on legislator that knows the rules. He was Chairman of Rules and Business committees of the House and Senate, so he knows the rules.
“This is the same lawmaker that tackled the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on different versions of Budget being implemented.
“He is very much aware of what is at stake and couldn’t have involved himself in such an illegality.”
He described the sad development as an act of mischief by those behind.
Following the alleged disappearance of the 2016 budget document from the National Assembly, the Senate Joint Committee on Wednesday, January 13, quizzed five members of staff from the upper chamber.
Meanwhile, Enang refused to comment on the accusation against him. According to him, the matter was a sensitive one involving two of his bosses, the National Assembly and the presidency.