Just when Nigerians thought that the last had been heard of the controversial 2016 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly and passed last week by the lawmakers, it was soon to attract another drama with the reported missing items in the fiscal proposal.
If it were mere drama, many long suffering Nigerians would gladly sit on the sidelines of the stage to ease the tension of the last few weeks marked by the fuel crisis and total collapse of public utilities.
But the current tragedy lies in the dithering between the Presidency and the National Assembly on what was missing or not submitted in the fiscal proposal approved by the lawmakers.
Sadly, there are reports that President Muhammadu Buhari is set to return the fiscal document back to the lawmakers after caustic accusations and counter accusations.
Although it was earlier reported that the president had intended to assent to the bill before travelling off to China last week, however, with the latest discovery, it does appear he would not be signing the bill anytime soon.
The discovery of the alleged inconsistencies was made during the Federal Executive Council chaired by the Vice President , Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday.
Although several allegations were bandied as to the motive behind the inconsistencies in the proposal submitted by the Presidency and the final outcome from the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, the alleged omission of the Calabar-Lagos rail line project in the bill before the president was the most contentious.
Indeed the controversy has pitted southern senators against their northern counterparts, with the former throwing their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to withhold his assent to the bill.
In the view of senators from the southern section of the country, the president should not sign the Appropriation Bill until the joint Appropriation Committees of the National Assembly include the Calabar-Lagos rail project in the budgetary proposal.
Reports indicated that senators from the South-West and South-South geo-political zones met in their respective caucuses on Tuesday night where they concluded that the project was deliberately removed because it is a southern project.
The senators hinged their decision on reports that the Appropriation Committee headed by two northern lawmakers diverted allocations to some projects in the north.
The southern senators were said to have consequently vowed to resist any attempt to deprive the people of the south access to such a major project.
The southern senators were said to have also rejected the call for a supplementary budget on Tuesday, describing it as an attempt to deny the southern region of the rail project.
This sabre-rattling between senators based on Nigeria’s notorious fault lines of geo-political zones on the one hand and the ego-trip with the Presidency on the other, is coming on the heels of yet another expedition by the president to China.
Is this the change Nigerians voted for? Happily, all the political actors in this unedifying drama swore to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. At the heart of the constitution is the sacred commitment by public officers to the wellbeing and general good of the people. Would they do the needful to pull Nigeria back from the edge of the precipice.