Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Presidency on Monday described as untrue, allegations by some federal lawmakers that the executive was deliberately underfunding the National Assembly 2018 budget, in order to achieve a predetermined objective.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita-Enang, gave the clarifications in an interview with our correspondent, in Abuja.
He insisted that the federal legislature remained the arm of government that had so far received the highest releases of the Federal Government based on the revenue accruable to the federation account in 2018.
Some senators and House of Representatives members had told Sunday Punch in separate interviews that there might be a clash between them and President Muhammadu Buhari in January if the executive failed to release funds appropriated to the federal parliament in the 2018 budget.
Some of the federal lawmakers, who spoke with Sunday Punch, had alleged that the executive arm of government withheld their money as a punishment.
The National Assembly increased its budget from N125bn allocated to it in 2017 to N139bn in 2018.
They, however, said rather than implementing their 2018 budget of N139bn, the executive was still paying them based on the N125bn appropriated for them in the 2017 national budget.
But Ita-Enang advised the federal legislators against taking the issue too far because the percentage of the implementation of the National Assembly 2018 budget was the highest compared to other arms of government in the year.
He said, “The 2018 budget was assented to in June 2018. We are just six months into the implementation of the budget. It is only the legislature that has been funded fully for the period. No other arm of government has enjoyed such funding. The executive respect and treasure the legislature.”
The President’s aide also described as untrue, allegations by the federal legislators that the releases made available to them were based on the 2017 budget size of N125bn.
He said, “The implementation of the National Assembly budget for the current fiscal year is not based on the 2017 Appropriation Act. It is based on that of 2018. What the executive is paying is based on what is realised from the revenue that is accrued to the nation.
“If they compare the percentage of their budget implementation to that of the executive, the judiciary and other agencies that are entitled to statutory transfers, the National Assembly is more favoured than other beneficiaries.”