Reps threaten to boycott budget presentation over minister’s comments

Members of the House of Reps
Members of the House of Reps

Members of the House of Representatives have threatened to boycott the presentation of 2019 budget estimates by the president, Muhammadu Buhari, over an alleged comment by the minister of budget and national planning, Udo Udoma.

The president had on Thursday, in an executive communique, announced that he will present the budget on Wednesday next week.

The letter was read by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, on the floor of the House.

Mr Udoma, was on Wednesday, quoted as saying that members of the National Assembly were behind the delay in the presentation of the 2019 budget. An allegation which the speaker out rightly debunked.

Mr Dogara said the 2019 Appropriation bill was only approved last week Friday and there was no way the National Assembly would have delayed it.

“Until this morning, nobody had requested for a date for budget presentation. The letter was only submitted today.”

Reacting to a point of order on the minister’s alleged comment, Mark Gbilah (PDP, Benue) said the minister lied on television and that his comments were not just on newspapers.

He said there was no need for investigations as the minister had lied against the honourable house.

Mr Gbillah said he joins his colleagues to demand a public apology on television from the minister.

The legislator said that the house should shun next week’s budget presentation by the president if the minister is not made to formally apologise to the house.

Earlier, Adamu Chika (APC, Niger) cited Order six, Rule 14 of the laws of the house, said that his privilege and that of the house had been breached by the Minister.

Mr Chika said that the minister was quoted in the news to have said that the executive was waiting for the National Assembly to give a date for the presentation of 2019 Appropriation bill.

He said that the minister portrayed the members of the National Assembly as “irresponsible people before Nigerians.”

The lawmaker said that the position held by the minister, as reported in the news, was a lie, as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) only approved the 2019 budget last week Friday.

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He said that some of the lawmakers were teachers, parents, and members of International Organisations who respect them and that the words of the minister were not acceptable.

The legislator stated that the minister be made to appear before the house and tender a public apology.

Mr Chika said he belonged to the House committee overseeing the affairs of the Ministry of Budget

Also commenting, Mike Adeniyi (PDP, Ondo) alleged that members of the executive often portrays the National Assembly in bad light.

He said there was a need to investigate the matter and the minister be made to come and clear himself before the house.

“When you move round, people now call us “legislooters”. They make us look like we are delaying the budget,” he said.

He said the house should seize the opportunity to clear its image before the general public and if the minister is guilty, the matter should be taken seriously.

On a contrary, majority leader of the house, Femi Gbajabiamiila (APC, Lagos) said that he would not support anybody to ridicule the hour no matter how highly placed.

Mr Gbajabiamiila said that the minister had called him to deny the report and that the minister said he was writing a rejoinder at the time of the call.

He urged the house to hold on a bit for the minister to make public his position before the house takes any radical decision.

Mr Gbajabiamila said that the minister was surprised and angry because of the report adding that it was important to convey the information to the house.

In his ruling, the speaker said that he believed the leader when he said the minister called and was writing a rejoinder but However will wait for the minister’s response.

“In view of the fact that he is the leader, I want to plead with the honourable members; in view of the fact, the minister was once a member of this institution.

“Let us see if he will issue the rejoinder before evening. I expect that it should be online now, but if we do not see that, we will not allow this institution to be blackmailed,” he said.

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