President Muhammadu Buhari said, yesterday, in the United States that he would not sign the 2016 Appropriation Bill, passed into law by the National Assembly, last week, unless he critically reviewed it. AFP to the President, who spoke at a meeting with the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Washington DC, said in view of the controversial alteration and padding of the budget proposals, he needed to review the document to be certain that its contents tallied with the authentic budget proposal presented to the National Assembly.
He said: “Some bureaucrats removed what we put in the proposal and replaced it with what they wanted. “I have to look at the bill that has been passed by the National Assembly, ministry by ministry; to be sure that what has been brought back for me to sign is in line with our original submission.”
Declaring that his administration would continue to vigorously prosecute its war against corruption, President Buhari sought and received an assurance from Mr. Kerry that the United States government would facilitate the repatriation of all stolen Nigerian funds found within the American banking system. “It will greatly help our country if you assist us to recover all our stolen funds which we can establish to be within your financial system,” the President said.
Acknowledging that the United States had been of great help to his administration in the retraining and re-equipping of the Nigerian Armed Forces which had resulted in the significant success already achieved against Boko Haram, President Buhari said the Federal Government was now working very hard to restore full normalcy in the North Eastern states. “Boko Haram no longer holds any local government area. We are reconstructing damaged facilities and preparing the police to take over and reassert civilian control over areas affected by the insurgency,” the President told Mr. Kerry.
Responding, John Kerry said he had been told that the stolen Nigerian funds were in “billions of dollars”. He said: “It’s not easy to hide that amount of money and we are pretty good in tracing them,” Mr Kerry assured President Buhari, adding that relevant United States government officials would meet with the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to discuss further cooperation in that regard.
Kerry applauded the Buhari administration’s success in rolling back the Boko Haram insurgency, saying the United States would continue to give Nigeria all possible support to ensure that the terrorist sect was finally eliminated. The U.S. Secretary of State also praised President Buhari’s clear order that Nigeria’s Armed Forces must show greater regard for the human rights of persons in the theatre of operations against Boko Haram.