President Muhammmadu Buhari on Wednesday, June 20, signed the 2018 budget but lamented that lawmakers made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects he submitted for consideration.
The president added that the lawmakers also introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.
Following the president’s statement, some senators have aired their views on the budget slash, particularly on social media.
Senator Shehu Sani, in his reaction, said President Buhari shouldn't have signed the 2018 budget.
The senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district in the National Assembly said the president signing the document was consent.
He wrote on Twitter: “The pen for our signatures should be propelled and controlled by the force of our conscience and not the force of compulsion.
“The president should not have signed a document he considers full of infractions. Signature, grudgingly or happily is the crown of consent."
Another member of the Senate, the embattled Senator Dino Melaye, also reacted to the budget slash.
Melaye (APC-Kogi West) said if President Muhammadu Buhari was displeased with the 2018 budget, he should have returned it to the National Assembly.
Similarly, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce(PDP/Bayelsa East), reacted to the 2018 budget.
Unlike the other senators who talked about the budget slash, Senator Bruce’s focus is on the amount allocated to education in the 2018 budget.
His tweet: "A nation predicts its own future by the way it treats education. What future is Nigeria predicting for itself when we spend ₦1.4 trillion on fuel subsidy and just a quarter of that on education? The fuel used yesterday is gone forever. The knowledge learnt yesterday is retained!"
However, the comments of the three senators are generating heated backlash from Nigerians on social media, particularly Twitter.
NAIJ.com collects some of the reactions below:
One of the noted reactions comes from Lauretta Onochie, an aide to President Buhari on Social Media. She specifically reacted to Senator Melaye's view. Onochie's reaction is very pungent.
She tweeted: "A National Assembly with Sen Melaye who is standing trial for criminal offences and who commutes between a Court and the House of Senate, does not need more help to further smear it."
Aborisade Peter corroborated Onochie's view. According to him, Melaye's comment was as a result of his unending battle with the law enforcement agents which he (Melaye) blamed on the presidency.
Peter tweeted that Melaye's comment should be ignored.
"Dino is a wounded lion just like his boss, the president of the Senate, we shouldn't expect anthing less from him, madam pls take note and stop wasting ur time over Dino's comment," he tweeted.
Tajam Amos' reaction to Senator Sani's tweet is a very logical one. According to him, the senators should be "confirming or denying" the president's allegations, not wasting their energies on the signature, which the president has already appended.
His tweet: "You should be confirming or denying his allegations......you are such a hypocrite... people like you can't post a single completed constituency project online...but every day criticising government as if you aren't part of it."
Akiri Francis, in his own reaction, accused the senator of being complicit in the alleged budget padding.
He wrote on Twitter: "We expected to hear your good voice here but you all sold out. Budget that has been submitted since November last year, it amounted to holding the nation to a ransom. Encourage good deeds and condemn bad ones too. The interest of this country should be first."
Festus Akinboyewa's resposnse is polemic; best presented just as he tweeted it:
"We need patriots & nationalists in our National Assembly and not this bunch of UNITED SELFISH INDIVIDUALS. U.S legislators would’ve worked tirelessly day & night to ensure passage of their budget on time. Our legislators put our budget in the morgue & went on all sorts on breaks."
Bhadmus Hakeem simply cursed the lawmakers "who cut the budget meant for completion of this (Lagos-Ibadan expressway) road".
"Currently on Lagos-Ibadan expressway and I must say “woe betide all the lawmakers who cut the budget meant for completion of this road”. #Budget2018," Hakeem wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, one of the notable reactions to Senator Bruce's tweet came from a Canada based Nigerian scholar, Pius Adesanmi.
Adesanmi tweeted: "This man suffers from cognitive dissonance. You are one of the NASS buccaneers who hacked funds from UBE, Unity Schools, Higher Ed, etc. Shut da effup!"
Chidi H. Lemchi reacted to the senator's tweet with a contradictory fact.
"Senator Ben Bruce, you can only tweet this at your gullible followers not someone like me or the multitude in the know here on Twitter.
"Did you go to ease yourself when the Senate passed this? Kindly explain or please, going forward keep this playing to the gallery to yourself," Lemchi tweeted and attached a document to support his reaction.
Abba Nasidi's reaction is simple and instructive; he advised the senator to take his argument to the Senate floor, not Twitter.
"U can do something abt it in d senate not ranting on Twitter," he wrote.
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Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had earlier reported that Senator Olamilekan Adeola, a member of the Senate committee on appropriation and finance, explained that the alteration of the 2018 budget by the lawmakers was in the interest of Nigerians.
Adeola spoke in Abuja in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement on the National Assembly’s alleged padding of the 2018 budget.
He said that the alteration was done in the interest of good Nigerians and in accordance with the stipulated law.
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