Teddy Oscar, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday revealed that “emergent circumstances” forced him to reschedule his earlier planned 2014 Budget proposal presentation to the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 to a new date by one week.
A statement signed by the director of personnel, Dr. Ishaya Habu Sarki, on behalf of the clerk of the National Assembly, which made available to newsmen late Monday, disclosed that the planned budget presentation had been shifted to Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
It 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.”
The President, on Tuesday sent a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and declared that “emergent circumstances have necessitated” his request for a new date.
“Sequel to my letter of 23rd October 2013 requesting that the honourable House grant me the slot of 12:00 noon on Tuesday, 12th November 2013 to enable me formally address a joint session of the National Assembly on the 2014 Budget, emergent circumstances have necessitated my having to request for a new date of Tuesday, 19th November 2013 at the same time.
“It is my hope that the honourable members will, in your usual tradition, favourably consider my request,” the letter read in part.
It would be recalled that the House, during its plenary last Thursday, had a near rowdy session over the request to admit the President and his entourage on the floor of the House to lay the 2013 appropriation bill, as some of the lawmakers, who had opposed the proposed date, insisted that they were not satisfied with the implementation of the 2013 Budget.
The lawmakers, led by Hon. Ali Madaki, argued that the President’s address on the budget should be postponed pending a satisfactory implementation of the 2013 Budget.
But deputy House leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, had moved a motion to admit the President and his entourage in a joint sitting with the Senate.
Raising a point of order under matters of personal explanation, when Tambuwal moved to put the question, Madaki further observed that the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) earlier submitted by the President to the House has not been considered and approved.
Madaki, who insisted that the lawmakers should shift the presentation of the budget until further notice, got the support of Hon. Ben Nwankwo, who argued that his motion, which seeks to review the implementation of the 2013 Budget earlier, was stood down pending the outcome of the House completion of oversight on the extent of implementation.
He, therefore, maintained that the budget presentation should also be put off.
On his part, Hon. Friday Itulah explained that since Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the President could lay the budget anytime within the financial year, the presentation be suspended.
The development opened a flurry of opposition as other members, including Hon. Raphael Nnanna kicked against the motion, saying that the presentation should not be stopped.
Hon. Warman Ogoriba submitted that there was no law barring the President from laying the budget.
Hon. Nkem Abonta said that the President should be allowed to present the budget and any other issue would be discussed during consideration.