I was misquoted – Lai Mohammed
By Sarah Okunbor
The spokesperson to the Vice President of Nigeria, Acting President Yemi Osinjao said his boss would sign the 2017 budget when he is satisfied with it.
This was in reaction to a statement credited to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who reportedly said government was not sure who would sign the budget.
Premiumtimes spoke with Lai Mohammed who immediately dismissed the report.
“It’s absolute rubbish,” said Mr. Mohammed.
Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria, the letter he addressed to the Senate on his transfer of power generated a lot of negative buzz as many claimed that the missive was worded to undermine the power of the Acting President despite referring to a chapter in the Nigerian constitution.
The letter referred to Section 145(1) of the Constitution but referring to the Acting President as “coordinate” affairs of the government in his absence.
However, Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Loulu Akande doused the tension by stressing that his boss would sign the budget into law in no time.
“Just so we are clear: when the time comes, everything is set, and he is satisfied, Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo will assent to the 2017 Budget,” said. Mr. Akande.
The National Assembly had last week passed the budget,increasing the total sum by N143 billion compared to what was sent by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers are, however, yet to transmit the budget to the presidency amidst reports some senators are dissatisifed with the final version.
Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed described the report which was published by Vanguard quoting him, as mischievous and absolute rubbish.
He denied the report to PremiumTimes on Thursday.
He said: “They asked who’s going to sign the budget, the President or the VP. I said that does not arise. Do they want me to say President? Then, they ask when he is coming back? So, I say when it is transmitted to the Presidency, that decision will be taken.”
Separately, Lai Mohammed aide also defending his boss by releasing another statement, describing vanguard report as malicious.
The aide in the statement said: The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a story in a section of the media quoting the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai
Mohammed, as saying ”we don’t know who will sign the 2017 budget”.
“This quote is a malicious misrepresentation of what transpired at the post-Federal Executive Council Meeting press briefing on Wednesday, 17 May 2017.
“When the minister was asked a question relating to the signing of the
2017 budget, his response was: ”When it is transmitted to the Presidency, the issue will be addressed.”
“Anything beyond that response amounts to deliberate mischief and should be ignored.”
Below is a transcript between Lai Mohammed and the Senate as obtained by Premiumtimes
Q: Has NASS transmitted the budget to executive?
A: Not yet but at least the minister of budget and national planning has gotten an advanced copy of what was passed and that is what we need to look at and compare to what we sent. It has not been transmitted officially to the presidency.
Q: Who will sign the budget?
A: When it is transmitted to the Presidency, that decision will be taken.