After harmonising the N2.17 trillion 2023 Supplementary Budget, the Senate and the House of Representatives have raised the student loan appropriation to N10billion.
Both chambers dropped the controversial presidential yacht, for which N5 billion was budgeted.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assured Nigerians after signing the budget into law yesterday that it would be judiciously utilised, reports The Nation.
The House had transferred the N5 billion-for-yacht to the student loan item before passage, while the Senate retained the items as presented.
Senate Appropriation Committee Deputy Chairman, Mohammed Ali Ndume (Borno South), said last night that the President cannot sign an Appropriation Bill passed differently by the two chambers of the National Assembly unless it is harmonised.
It was learnt that the Senate adopted the version passed by the House, paving the way for the President’s signature.
Ndume, the Senate Chief Whip, said the Senate had decided to probe circumstances surrounding the yacht acquisition, which he insisted was done before the Tinubu Administration.
After public outcry over the “Presidential Yatch N5billion vote” in the Supplementary Budget proposal, the Presidency cleared the air, saying the yatch was a Naval equipment and not a presidential luxury item.
The Navy said it had taken delivery of the vessel but had not paid for it due to cash constraints.
It said the yacht had been delivered since June and was for training purposes.
President Tinubu, at a brief signing ceremony at the State House, Abuja, commended the National Assembly for the swift consideration and passage of the budget.
Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said the Federal Government assigned 32 per cent to the wage award for federal civil servants; 30 per cent is for defence and security.
The wage award is to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal.
Exactly 35 per cent will fund infrastructure under the Works, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Housing and Urban Development ministries.
The Ministry of Defence got the lion’s share of the allocations, receiving N476. 543 billion, followed by the Ministry of Works with N300 billion.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security got N200 billion; the Ministry of Housing received N100 billion.
The Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) got N100 billion and Police Formations and Command got N50 billion.
Service Wide Votes was allocated N615 billion; State House got N28 billion, while N210 billion was reserved for Capital Supplementation.
The National Assembly increased the budget for Defence from N456 billion to N546 billion.
It also increased allocation to police formations to N50 billion from the initial N27 billion.
At the budget signing were Senate President Godswill Akpabio, House of Representatives Speaker Tajudeen Abbas, Secretary to the Government of the Federation George Akume and Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele.
Others were Senate Appropriation Committee Chairman Olamilekan Adeola, his House counterpart Abubakar Bichi and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman Zacch Adedeji.
Senate Committee on Navy, mandated to investigate the controversial “presidential yacht” within one week, said the probe will seek to unearth the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the equipment.
The Committee chairman, Senator Gbenga Daniel, said the probe report will provide the public with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the situation.
The committee will also visit all naval facilities towards modernising operational capabilities.
The National Assembly passed the supplementary budget of N2.176 trillion on November 2.
The student loan policy was initiated by President Tinubu to support indigent students and prevent them from dropping out of higher institutions.
Beneficiaries are expected to pay back after graduation to keep it as a revolving fund.
The policy will take effect from January.