The Senate has approved the sum of N213 billion to augment the shortfalls in the 2016 budget for the funding of critical Recurrent and Capital items of the budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari had written the National Assembly requesting for the approval of additional N180 billion to beef up the budget, but the House of Representatives on November 22, approved the President’s request at N208 billion following recommendations from its Committee on Appropriation.
The Senate, on its part, approved an even higher sum of N213 billion, also relying on the report of its appropriation committee.
But the approval was not without a mild drama, as Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu raised a constitutional point of order, saying that the issue of virement as requested by the president was unconstitutional.
He argued that the constitution only recognized supplementary appropriation, but another lawmaker, Abdullahi Adamu, countered the argument by pointing out that section 24 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act made provision for Virement.
This was supported by Yahaya Abdullahi who explained that a Supplementary Budget is to address new issues in the existing Appropriation Act while Virement is to address shortfalls in it.
Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, pointed out that Ekweremadu had been a principal officer of the senate for more than eight years and had witnessed situations where virement requests were considered and approved.
He wondered why the Deputy Senate President has suddenly realized that the President’s request was unconstitutional.
Approving the request, Senate President Bukola Saraki noted that the move would resolve all pending financial issues especially in the Public Complaints Commission, the Amnesty Programme and others critical areas.