President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly appeared to have struck a deal on the possible passage of the 2018 budget, sources close to the administration have said.
The duo of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara on Thursday visited the Presidential Villa to deliberate with the president on the thorny aspects of the budget.
The Budget, which was presented to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017 with the hope that the lawmakers would promptly pass the document and enable a January to December financial calendar.
But the N8,6 trillion budget has been stuck in the National Assembly since then, with lawmakers expressing doubts it would be passed before the end of the first quarter of the year.
On Tuesday, the Senate declared it was uncertain when the budget would be passed.
Members of the National Assembly have expressed doubts about the implementation of their constituency projects.
The percentage of implementation was at a time put at a meagre 11 percent.
But sources close to the administration said on Friday that the meeting between Buhari and the Presiding officers including Saraki and Dogara appeared to have doused the tension.
“The budget may be passed before the end of March,” said a source.
A source in the know about the discussions between the presiding officers and Buhari said that the meeting was cordial and that the President expressed surprise that many Ministries and Agencies were
holding down the budget.
The source said:” President Muhammadu Buhari was actually surprised when told that the problem with the budget is not that with the Assembly but that some Ministers and agencies have not appeared before
NASS to defend their budget.
“Some 70 percent of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have not submitted their budgets to the National Assembly as we speak.
“The meeting between the President and the National Assembly leaders was not only cordial but it discussed the issue of 2018 budget extensively.
“The President actually apologised to the National Assembly on hearing the true situation of things and he immediately directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to write all ministers and MDAs who are expected to sort out the budget issue within a week.
“We believe that once that is done, the coast will be clear for budget passage.