- The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari was absent at yesterday’s emergency Federal Executive Council meeting.
The FEC yesterday began a review of the details of the 2016 budget which the National Assembly transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
The president was conspicuously absent at the extraordinary FEC meeting attended by cabinet members, heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as several presidential aides.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presided over the emergency FEC meeting convened to scrutinise details of the appropriation bill.
According to Shehu, the president was within the State House, but did not attend the meeting because “there was no need for him to be present to study the budget details. The meeting didn’t require the president’s presence.”
He added that: “It (the extraordinary budget meeting) is ongoing. We might even have other meetings of this.”
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed had told State House correspondents after the meeting that it was convened to give ministers the opportunity to look at the budget details and how their respective ministries were affected.
The minister noted that the session would later resume yesterday afternoon, but it never did as journalists waited in vain for the meeting to reconvene. The minister described the review of the budget details as a work in progress, saying the cabinet was still studying it.
“There is nothing definite to say. Yes, we have seen it (the budget details). We are studying it, and we will come out with a statement later,” Mohammed said.
The president had, at a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on March 31, said he would not assent to the appropriation bill without critically reviewing it.
He stated that in view of the controversial alteration and padding of the budget proposals, he needed to review the bill in order to be certain that its contents tallied with what he presented to the National Assembly.