The senate has approved President Buhari’s request to use part of the N500billion special intervention fund. Buhari had designated N500bn in the budget for social programmes.
Speaking on the floor of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, urged the senate to approve the request, but added that process through which the president brought the proposal was unconstitutional.
He said the president ought to have brought a supplementary budget and not a request for virement.
”Virement is not known to the constitution. It is a military terminology,” he said.
However, the senate approved the request, raising it from N180bn to N213bn.
In October, Buhari had written to the senate asking for a transfer (virement) of funds appropriated for special intervention in the 2016 budget to other exigent items.
The president said the amount of money appropriated in the 2016 budget for the mobilisation of corps members this year was inadequate.
He cited shortfalls in the provisions of personnel costs; inadequate provision ab nitio for some items like the amnesty programme, continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency and depreciation of the naira as the reasons for his request to the upper legislative chamber.
“I write to request for the virement of funds appropriated for special intervention (recurrent) and special intervention (capital) to fund some critical recurrent and capital items,” the president wrote.
“This request has risen due to a number of reasons, including shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs, inadequate provision ab nitio for some items like the amnesty programme, continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency, and depreciation of the naira.
“However, considering the fact that the budgeted revenues are running behind target largely due to renewed violence in the Niger Delta, and there are no supplementary revenue sources, the most viable option for now is the virement of appropriated funds from heads and sub-heads that may not be fully utlised before the end of the year.
“The security-related lines in the service wide vote, specifically operations internal for the armed forces (N13bn) and operation Lafiya Dole (N8bn) have been totally released while the Nigerian air force needs about (N12, 708, 367, 476) to cover the foreign exchange differentials in the procurement of its critical capabilities.
“The contingency vote of N12bn has a balance of only N1, 827, 570, 443. It is considered necessary to augment this vote in the light of frequently emerging contingencies.
”Only N20bn (already fully released) was provided in the 2016 budget for the Niger Delta amnesty programme. Consequently, the allowances to ex-militants have only been paid up to May 2016. This is creating a lot of restiveness and compounding the security challenges in the Niger Delta.”
On NYSC, the president wrote: “The provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corpers to be mobilised this year. In fact, an additional N8.5bn is required to cover the backlog of 129, 469 corps members who are currently due for call-up, but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints.”
“Similarly, the provisioSenatn for meal subsidy for unity colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools.”
Buhari also said the devaluation of the naira had made budgetary provisions for foreign missions inadequate.
He, therefore, asked for a total of N180, 839, 254, 430 from the special intervention fund to fund these items.