Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday presided over the emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to scrutinise the 2016 budget details forwarded to the Presidency by the National Assembly on Thursday.
President Muhammadu Buhari who had earlier summoned the meeting was however conspicuosly absent.
No official reason was given for the president’s nonappearance at the FEC meeting. The President’s Media Adviser, Femi Adesina declined to comment on the Buhari’s absence last night.
A presidency source that he could not fathom why Buhari did not attend the meeting. “He (Buhari) summoned the meeting and then, he was nowhere to be found. It looks a bit funny,” said the source.
Many Nigerians were surprised by the president’s nonattendance at the critical FEC meeting; members of the FEC made up of the 36 ministers, the Vice President and the Secretary to the State Government, SGF were indeed also surprised.
All the FEC members arrived early for the meeting fixed for 11am.
While exchanging pleasantries amongst themselves, they were interrupted by a clap of hand, a sign to signal them of the president’s arrival to the meeting.
But there was no sign of the president in the room. It was the SGF, Mr. David Babachir who verbally called the meeting to order while Vice President Osinabjo called for opening prayers.
At this point, Journalists were excused from the meeting and the meeting eventually kicked off without Buhari while Osinbajo took charge.
Thereafter, the vice president, ministers and some permanent secretaries began the critical examination of the document.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said: “We have received the details of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly yesterday and an extra-ordinary Federal Executive Council meeting was called this morning to avail every minister to look at the details of the budget and see how it affects each of the ministries.
“And also at this point, it is still work in progress, we have broken up to resume later in the afternoon. We will come out with a statement later.”
The president had insisted on seeing the details of the budget before he could append his signature to the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
While he submitted a total of N6.08 trillion as the budget estimates, the National Assembly pruned it down to N6.06 amid allegations of padding.
It was yet unknown whether FEC would recommend the signing of the document into law after the meeting as the president is believed to be leaving for China next week.
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