Buhari’s 2019 budget presentation delayed over move by lawmakers to protest

Some aides of the president arriving at the National Assembly
Some aides of the president arriving at the National Assembly

The anticipated presentation of the 2019 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly was on Wednesday delayed for over 30 minutes due protest by some lawmakers.

The lawmakers, mostly from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also carried placards with different inscriptions into the chamber.

The budget presentation was scheduled for 12 noon but was delayed till a few minutes before 1 p.m.

Before Mr Buhari’s arrival, the House of Representatives members held an executive session where Speaker Yakubu Dogara pleaded with aggrieved members not to embarrass the president.

They did not listen to Mr Dogara’s plea.

Also, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly (Reps), Kawu Samaila, made similar appeals.

Mr Samaila, a former lawmaker, was seen retrieving placards from some of the aggrieved lawmakers.

But even he could not stop what would turn out to be an embarrassing budget presentation for the president.

Just before Mr Buhari arrived at about 12:40 p.m., two members of the House, Bashir Babale and Duoye Diri, engaged in physical combat.

Trouble started when some placards brought by the lawmakers were shredded to pieces by Mr Babale, a loyalist of the president.

Shortly after, Samuel Ayanwu, a senator, also engaged his colleague, Godwill Akpabio, in a hot argument.

The protesters continued with their song as President Muhammadu Buhari stepped into the chamber, while APC lawmakers hailed the President, ‘Sai Baba!’

The National Anthem stopped both sides temporarily.

Some lawmakers during the presentation repeatedly interrupted President Buhari’s speech with chants and boos.

As the president mentioned achievements of his administration, the aggrieved lawmakers responded chanting “Lies! Barawo! Grasscutter!

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The president, irked by the actions of the lawmakers, cautioned them to comport themselves.

“May I remind members of the National Assembly that the world is watching us. We are supposed to be above this,” he said.

The president’s response was met with applause by many lawmakers mostly of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

As soon as the president concluded his speech, the session turned rowdy again.

It was time for Messrs Saraki and Dogara to present their speeches; but while APC lawmakers chanted ‘four more years,’ their PDP counterparts screamed, ‘no more years.’

After several minutes into the drama, the Presidential Guards Brigade band suddenly drew the curtain by playing the National Anthem.

The ceremony ended abruptly without speeches from the presiding officers of both houses.

Security operatives led the president out of the chamber leaving the lawmakers behind.

The proposed N8.83 trillion budget shows that about a quarter of the sum (N2.14 trillion) will be used for debt servicing while capital expenditure is expected to gulp N2.031 trillion.

Further breakdown presented by the president shows that proposed recurrent expenditure is N4.04 trillion, statutory transfer is N492.36 billion, there is a sinking fund of N120 billion, while capital expenditure is N2.031 trillion.


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