It seems the controversy surrounding the 2016 budget isn’t quite over yet as the President has refused to sign the budget into law.. A source close to the presidency have revealed that some important infrastructural projects contained in the documents were either removed or slashed. This was discovered in the emergency Federal executive Council (FEC) meeting to look into the fiscal document held on Friday and presided over by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
According to the source,
“At the meeting, it was noticed that some very key aspects of the budget, which have to do with government’s core infrastructural focus, were removed. One of the projects is the subject of the President’s trip to China – the Lagos/Calabar coastal railway project – for which a counterpart funding of N60bn was provided, but which was completely removed by the National Assembly. The executive is working on two major rail arteries, among other rail projects, to service the northern and eastern parts of the country – the Lagos/Kano line and the Calabar/Lagos line. While the Lagos-Kano provision was left untouched, the Calabar/ Lagos line was removed. The projects are to be funded jointly by governments of China and Nigeria. It is one of the main reasons for the President’s scheduled trip to China. Also, the amount proposed for the completion of the Idu/Kaduna rail project which has reached an advanced stage, was reduced by N8.7bn, a development which will make it difficult for the project to be completed.
It was also observed that certain provisions made in the areas of agriculture and water resources to further the Federal Government’s diversification project were either removed or reduced while the funds were moved to provisions of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere. The President is desirous of signing the Bill into law so that implementation of the provisions could begin in earnest for the benefit of the people. That is why the moment he received the document on Thursday, a meeting was convened for Friday to immediately start work on it”.
The source also said that allocations for the provision of essential drugs to fuel major health campaigns like polio and AIDS were removed and transferred to the purchase of ambulances, which the health ministry did not ask for.