"We did it in the interest of the people" is the reaction of federal lawmakers to the unhappiness of President Muhammadu Buhari with their alterations to the 2018 budget.
While signing the 2018 budget on Wednesday, Buhari had said he was doing it because he did not want to further slow down the growth of the economy that had been crippled with recession.
Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who represented Senate President Bukola Saraki during the 2018 budget, signing told reporters that the National Assembly was not worried because the job was a very taxing one.
"The 2018 budget has been signed today. The President made it clear that it is going to be a buildup on the achievements recorded so far in this administration in impacting positively on the life of Nigerians, I think that is what Nigerians should be happy about,” Na'Allah said.
“We are not worried because the job of parliamentarians is a very difficult one. The way the budget came, if we had allowed it to go that way, we would have been in trouble with those who elected us. You have to balance in the six geo political zones.
“It is the balancing efforts by the National Assembly that led to those observations and, happily enough, he himself has said he is coming with a supplementary budget which will be dealt with as quickly as possible, I assure you about that one.”
He explained that the supplementary budget was “built on what has already been done by the National Assembly; I think that is the most important issue”.
Speaking on the President's complaint that the budget took so long before it was passed by the legislature, he said: “About the issue of delay, the President is right, but at the same time, if you remember, you were here, the President had to order some MDAs to appear before the Assembly for the purpose of defending their budgets.
“It’s a very delicate issue; if somebody said he wants N500million for the maintenance of bridges nationwide, then you expect the National Assembly to say okay, that budget is approved because it came from the executive? Then we have not done our work. We will be interested in knowing which of the roads you are going to maintain so that again, we don’t give another allocation in the next budget.”
Hon. Ado Doguwa, who represented Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of House of Representatives, said: “I think some of these major concerns Mr President has raised are very critical and I am afraid if I should be in a position to respond on behalf of the House. But, for me, as an individual and a member of the House of Representatives, I want to believe that the President is at liberty to raise some of these observations.
“But the most important thing you have to know is that the budget has been signed and is now a law of the federation and we expect the executive to now implement the law to the letter," Doguwa said.
“Should the President, however, bring about an amendment or a supplementary budget for the National Assembly to consider, we will also at the same time, be at liberty to look at the President’s concerns and those things he wants us to now review and I want to believe the National Assembly is always in a position to work hand in hand with Mr President.
"A lot of us in both chambers of the National Assembly have tremendous respect for Mr President and we cherish his moral integrity as a leader. I want to believe we will always play in tune to his expectations to make him deliver on the dividends of democracy that he promised, especially in this period of election.
“Some of us who are in the APC, and even a lot of members that are in opposition, are quite aware of the enormous responsibility on the shoulders of Mr President. Now is the right time to cooperate with Mr President and give him what he desires as the leader of the government."