By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari says no money has been released from the $1 billion proposed to acquire military hardware to boost the war against terrorism and other security challenges in the county.
The President said that he was still preparing to seek approval from the National Assembly before spending from the money.
There has been uproar over the proposed spending, after it was announced last week by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, that Buhari had approved the request of the National Economic Council (NEC) for the money to be deducted from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
While the National Assembly said that it was not consulted, the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, who fiercely opposed the move, dragged the Federal Government to court to stop it from spending the money from the ECA.
Commenting on the development on Monday, the Presidenta��s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, told State House correspondents that the President never authorised the immediate spending of the $1billion without the approval of the legilslature as stipulated by law.
Enang admitted that Buhari had received the NEC request and met with Dan-Ali and other security chiefs to collate their needs and the money available for appropriation; but that “the said sum has not and cannot be approved for spending by Mr. President.”
He clarified instead that “Mr. President and the meeting having collated the need of each Service and the amount involved may now present same to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration, or in exercise of presidential powers may communicate same to the National Assembly for appropriation.
“That this may be done as usual upon Mr. President consulting prior with the leadership of the National Assembly through the whole body of principal officers or the presiding officers of each chambers only, before originating the communication to the National Assembly
“That as at now, the process of approving the money for use is inchoate and still undergoing Executive standard operating procedure before laying same before the National Assembly for appropriation.
“That the processes now being worked on is to fast-track this procedures so that it may be forwarded to the National Assembly while it is still considering the 2018 Appropriation Bill (Budget) for incorporation as Mr. President’s supplementary request under the 2018 Budget, or if completed, after the 2018 Budget, it may be forwarded as supplementary Appropriation Bill
“That succinctly stated, Mr. President has not approved the sum for any release of this procurement or application howsoever,” he said.
Enang who explained the conditions precedent to release of money from the country’s central coffers, maintained that a�?the matter of the security fund is still undergoing standard processes for laying before the National Assembly for appropriation.
“In summary, the said sum can only be spent upon, and in the manner as shall be approved by the National Assembly, and assented to in Appropriation Act or Supplementary Appropriation Act.”
By Chesa Chesa