2014 Budget: Reps Divided Over Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan

The House of Representatives was sharply divided yesterday on whether President Goodluck Jonathan should present the 2014 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly next Tuesday.

Pandemonium began when a  member, Hon  Ali Madaki  a PDP member representing Dala Constituency, Kano moved a motion demanding a resolution by the House to bar President Goodluck Jonathan from presenting the 2014 budget estimate to the National Assembly on Tuesday next week.

Jonathan had last week written to both the Senate and House of Representatives requesting their approval to present the 2014 budget on November 12 at a joint session.

Madaki’s motion which came in form of Point of Order was hinged on the poor performance of the 2013 budget.

Madaki argued that the House had an agreement that before the 2014 would be accommodated, explanations must be given on the over all performance of 2013 budget.

According to him:  a compromise was made on this last year before the passage of the 2013 budget.

Madaki who rated the current performance of 2013 budget at 40 per cent argued that it was unreasonable to allow the president to present the 2014 budget proposal, suggesting that the President be called to give explanation on the low record of implementation of the 2013 budget.

“This year’s budget is below 40 per cent implementation. The budget must be implemented to a certain level before a new one is allowed or taken from the President,” he said.

Rowdiness ensued as the House immediately became divided with many members of All Progressive Congress(APC) shouting in support of Madaki.

However, Hon. Warman Ogoriba (Bayelsa PDP ) rose up in defense of the President.

Ogoriba said that it was the constitutional right of the president to present the budget to the National Assembly.

He was supported by Hon Nkem Abonta (Abia PDP) who cautioned that it would translate to a breach of the constitution if the president was barred.

Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said it was a mistake debating the matter in the first place. He noted that a point of order raised by Madaki on personal information should not have been a subject of debate.

Tambuwal, said it was against the rules to allow members to debate any point of order that was of personal information, saying it was Madaki’s piece of information to the House which was a product of his observation on the 2013.

But despite the speaker’s appeal to the members, some nerves were still frayed as to why President Jonathan should be allowed to present the budget estimates on Tuesday.

When finally, the issue was put to vote by the Speaker, the shouts of “yea” and “nay” rented the air. But Tambuwal who would not want further argument on the matter hit the gavel in favour of the “yea” thereby paving way for the President to present the budget on Tuesday.

Members also expressed disappointment over the President’s refusal to assent to some bills passed by the  National Assembly.

Hon Yakubu Dogara(Bauchi PDP) has listed about 36 bills passed by the chamber which were still awaiting the assent of the President.

The Speaker consequently madated the Committee on Rules and Business to gather the unsigned bills for the House and report back to the house.