The Presidency on Monday denied reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the purchase of equipment worth $1bn for the military. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, stated this while speaking with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, had told journalists of the approval at the end of a meeting that Buhari had with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday. “What I can add, after all that I have said is to inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1bn,” the minister had said.
However, criticisms have trailed the reports from different quarters with some holding the view that it was unlawful for the President to approve the procurement without the input of the National Assembly. Enang admitted that Buhari could not approve the said sum for spending, explaining that having received approval from the National Economic Council for the money to be spent, the President held 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
According to him, having collated the needs of each service and the amount involved, the President would present same to the Federal Executive Council for detailed consideration, or in exercise of presidential powers, might communicate same to the National Assembly for appropriation. He added that this would not be done until Buhari would have consulted with the leadership of the National Assembly. Enang explained, “As of 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.
“The process now being worked on is to fast-track these 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 Appropriation Act, Vote of Charge and Warrant which is legally predicated on appropriation authorisation Sub-head under the Act.”According to presidential aide, the Executive was conscious of the provisions of Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution “which states that no money shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of the money has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.”