Opposition party members at the House of Representatives on Thursday threatened to override President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto on the 2013 budget if he fails to sign it.
Jonathan has not communicated officially to the National Assembly that he will not sign the N4.9tr budget.
The delayed signing of the document, three weeks after it was sent to the Presidency, has raised speculation of a rift between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
There were claims that the legislature and the Presidency had disagreements over “padded constituency projects”, but neither side had confirmed this publicly.
On Wednesday, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi, blamed the delay on “typographical errors” in the document, dismissing speculation of its return to the legislature.
Presidential spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati, also stated that his boss was still studying the budget.
Abati added that there was no possibility of returning the entire budget to the National Assembly.
Rising from a meeting on Thursday, opposition lawmakers from the Action Congress of Nigeria,
All Nigeria Peoples Party, Congress for Progressive Change and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, warned that they would vote to override Jonathan if the delay turned out to be a veto.
The Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who gave their position at a news conference, said, “We call on Mr. President to very quickly sign the 2013 budget and we will work with him on this if there are genuine grey areas.
“We are already in February and a situation where the legislature will have to over ride his presidential veto as constitutionally provided is not a good way to start the year or foster a good legislative-executive relationship.
“We also ask that Mr. President begins to respect official resolutions from an equal arm of government as these resolutions are always in national interest.
“If two heads are better than one; then 360 heads are better than one.”
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said such a move would be premature.
Mohammed said, “We have not reached there yet. Mr. President has not come to tell us that he will not sign the budget. If need be, we are not afraid, but we are not there yet.
“Why not keep our gunpowder dry until we get there?”
According to him, the House will not act on “speculation” that Jonathan would not sign the budget until the President wrote the National Assembly in line with constitutional provisions.
The members also declared their support for the decision of the four major opposition parties in the country to merge with the aim of wresting power from the People Democratic Party during the 2015 poll.