Senate President Bukola Saraki in yesterday’s plenary section said President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to $1 billion bill requests from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the completion of Ajoakuta steel company was not tenable at this time of financial constraints.
The letter dated March 19th, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “The nation cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be alternatively deployed towards.
“Bills which seek to make an appropriation of revenues to fund public expenditure should be consolidated in the annual Appropriation Act such that these proposals pass through the traditional scrutiny that budget proposal is subjected to by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly.
As the Excess Crude Account Funds belong to the Federation, it would be proper to consult with the National Economic Council where the States are represented. “Relevant stakeholders such as the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development, Industry, Trade, and Investment were not fully consulted.
“The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as an institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector.”
Buhari also withheld assent to seven other bills, namely the National Housing Fund Bill, 2018; the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill, 2018; the Nigerian Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill, 2018, and the Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (establishment) Bill, 2018.
Others were Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Bill, 2018; the National; the National Institute of Credit Administration Bill, 2018, and the National Bio-Technology Development Agency Bill, 2018.
The reasons President Muhammadu Buhari said for his rejection of the bills included infractions of extant laws, duplication of functions with existing agencies, financial constraints.