At no time did President Muhammadu Buhari approve the release of $1 billion for the purchase of military equipment to fight Boko Haram, his legislative aide has said.
Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, had said, on Wednesday last week, that Buhari had made the approval.
This generated controversy across Nigeria, with senators angry that no legislative approval was sought or received for the proposed expenditure.
But Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters, said on Monday that Buhari has not approved the release of $1 billion from the excess crude account as claimed by Dan-Ali.
He said the approval given to the federal government by the national economic council was undergoing the “normal legislative process” before the national assembly.
Enang said the president follows the due process and could not have approved the money.
This will be considered a U-turn by government critics following a series of pronouncements by presidential aides.
Lauretta Onochie, personal assistant to the president on social media, had in response to critics said there is no illegality in the release of $1 billion approved for the procurement of security equipment.
Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, said those criticising Buhari’s approval of $1 billion for security funding “are playing politics with the lives of Nigerians”.
But Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media, sought to douse the criticism by saying the approval “is not final”.
ENANG’S STATEMENT IN FULL
“In response to several issues raised about Security Fund sourced for at source from Excess Crude account to combat Security challenges in the country and the several misreadings attending same, may l state as follows:
“That the said sum has not and cannot be approved for spending by Mr. President.
“That in accordance with best practices, Mr. President, having received approval of sum from National Economic Council made up of all the Governors, now had a meeting with the Minister of Defence, Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, among others to collate the need of each of the Services and the money available for appropriation
“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 for detailed 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
“In any case, before any Sum is released from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, there must be
A. Appropriation Act
B. Vote of Charge
C. Warrant which is legally predicated on appropriation authorization Sub-head under the Act
“That the Executive is conscious of the provisions of the Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution which states:
“No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.
“No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
“We are also conscious of the provision of Sections 4 and 5 of the 2017 Appropriation Act (relating to Excess crude Account) and would not take any action in breach thereof.
“Just as the Legislature in processing legislation starts with conceptualizing, drafting, scrutiny of the draft, gazzetting, First reading, 2nd reading, committal to appropriate committee, public hearing, consideration of the Report by Committee of the whole or supply, passage and 3rd reading in plenary, so also does the Executive have and maintain standard operating procedure, or due process or due diligence in all actions. And at this stage, the matter is ongoing these processes.
“Therefore, the matter of the Security fund is still undergoing standard processes for laying before the National Assembly for appropriation.
“In summary, ladies and gentlemen, 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.”