ABUJA – Nigeria’s acting president, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, signed the 2017 budget into law on Monday, with Abuja planning record spending to pull Africa’s biggest economy out of recession.
Parliamentarians Lawmakers passed the record 7.44-trillion naira (R304-billion) budget plan in May, which was bigger than the 7.298-trillion-naira draft spending plan submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari in December.
Nigeria has been in recession since last year, largely due to low oil prices and militant attacks on the country’s Niger Delta energy facilities. Oil sales usually bring in two-thirds of the government’s revenue.
Osinbajo is standing in for President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been on medical leave in Britain since 7 May, his second prolonged absence this year. Buhari’s medical condition is unclear.
“This budget is a budget of economic recovery and growth. It is designed to bring Nigeria out of recession,” Osinbajo said after the signing.
He said the economy was gradually recovering and that the budget would be implemented based on the country’s recovery plans. Nigeria’s economy contracted for the fifth consecutive time in the first quarter of this year.
Before the signing there had been speculation that Buhari would return home at the weekend, casting some doubt on whether Osinbajo would be able to sign the budget.
Buhari on Monday issued a statement saying it was in the interest of the country for his deputy to sign the budget.
The acting president said the budget signing was delayed by changes in the proposal sent to parliament. “We resolved some while some are still to be resolved,” he said.
Last year’s budget, passed in May 2016, was delayed for months by disagreements between parliamentarians and the presidency over spending plans that cut the supply of government money and deepened the economic crisis.
Buhari said in his statement, signed by his spokesman Garba Shehu, that the 2018 budget proposal would be submitted by October and parliament would conclude the process by December so the country could return to a normal budget cycle from next year.