Published On: Tue, Nov 7th, 2017

Tension Rises As Lawmakers Plan To Scuttle Buhari’s Budget Presentation

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By Nuel Suji – Palpable tension has enveloped the National Assembly ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the joint session by President Muhammadu Buhari, even as the Presidency embarked on a last minute conciliatory moves to calm fray nerves.

The lawmakers are not favourably disposed to the planned presentation of 2018 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, protesting poor implementation of the current 2017 budget.

To douse tension among the angry lawmakers both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara held meetings with the lawmakers appealing to them to allow peaceful presentation by the President.

The federal lawmakers are concerned that the less than 40 percent of the 2017 capital budget has been implemented by the Executive arm.

The development grievances expressed had informed the sudden visit of the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, to the National Assembly Complex earlier on Monday.

Mr. Boss held a closed-door meeting with the leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives on the scheduled visit by the President.

Members of the House of Representatives had last week indicated opposition to the planned Budget Presentation by President Buhari when they chorused ‘No…’ to the hint by the Speaker on the President’s scheduled visit.

Since members of the House of Representatives openly rejected the request for President Buhari’s visit to the National Assembly for Budget Presentation, there has been growing tension among lawmakers, many of who even threatened not to be on seat when the President comes calling.

Aggrieved lawmakers who spoke on the issue alluded to their earlier protest against poor implementation of the 2017 budget and the hardship it has brought on Nigerians.

They said the poor Budget implementation by the Buhari’s government amounted to sabotaging their political future more so as many of their supporters have been complaining bitterly about biting effect of the poor economy of Nigeria.

“How else can one’s political career be frustrated? Since 2015, we have never had a single budget that recorded 50% success in terms of implementation particularly with regards to capital projects. We had hoped that all these would be corrected in the 2017 budget but no! It is even worst,” a lawmaker told newsmen on Monday.

“When we asked questions, no concrete response is forthcoming; and you expect us to just keep quiet and allow the President to present another budget that may go the same way.

“Remember that the 2018 budget is the last one to be executed fully by this administration. What will the President count as his legacy in terms of budget implementation?

“Also take note that all the budget failures has very damning effects on members of the National Assembly who are the real representatives of the people. What do they expect us to tell our constituents? It is really a sad moment for us”

However, to stave off possible embarrassing moments when he finally shows up for Budget Presentations, both Saraki and Dogara had to hold separate meetings with their respective colleagues just to pacify them for the main time.

In the Senate for example, the leadership met with the two party caucuses during which it got assurances that the budget presentation would not be disturbed.

The Senate leadership specifically tasked some Senators to move to the House of Representatives to assist the leadership in persuading lawmakers to accept to host the President at the budget event.

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