There are indications that lawmakers may have succeeded in frustrating President Goodluck Jonathan’s planned presentation of the 2014 Budget proposals to the joint session of the National Assembly this week.
The presentation, which was earlier scheduled for Tuesday, has been cancelled and rescheduled to hold next week Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
No reason was, however, given for the sudden change in the visit to the National Assembly by the President.
A statement signed by the director of personnel, Dr. Ishaya Habu Sarki, on behalf of the clerk of the National Assembly and made available to newsmen late Monday, read: “I am directed to inform you that the presentation of the 2014 annual budget by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, to the joint session of the National Assembly has been rescheduled for Tuesday, 19th November, 2013.”
Recall that the House of Representatives’ plenary last Thursday had a near rowdy session over the request to admit Jonathan and his entourage on the floor of the Green Chambers to lay the 2013 Appropriation Bill.
Some of the lawmakers had opposed the proposed date, insisting that they were not satisfied with the implementation of the 2013 Budget.
The lawmakers, including Hon. Ali Madaki, had insisted that the address of the President on the budget slated for Tuesday should be postponed pending a satisfactory implementation of the 2013 Budget.
Deputy House leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, had moved a motion to admit Jonathan and his entourage in a joint sitting with the Senate.
When the speaker, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, moved to put the question, following the seconding of the motion, Madaki raised a point of order under matters of personal explanation.
Madaki argued that the House should not receive the 2014 proposal until an appreciable state of implementation is attained.
He said that the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which was earlier submitted by the President to the House, was yet to be considered and approved.
He insisted that the lawmakers should shift the presentation of the budget until further notice.
Madaki’s submission rreceived the support of Hon. Ben Nwankwo.
Nwankwo, while reminding his colleagies that his motion, which seeks to review the implementation of the 2013 Budget earlier, was stood down pending the outcome of the completion of oversight function by the House on the extent of implementation, submitted that the budget presentation should also be put off.
In his submission, Hon. Friday Itula, who pointed out that since Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the President could lay the budget anytime within the financial year, suggested that the presentation be suspended.
The development opened a flurry of opposition as other members, including Hon. Raphael Nnanna, who kicked against the motion, said that the presentation should not be stopped.
In his contribution, Hon. Warman Ogoriba observed that there was no law barring the President from laying the budget.
Support came from Hon.Nkem Abonta, who said that the President should be allowed to present the budget and any other issue would be discussed during consideration.