House Members Threaten to Boycott Buhari’s Budget Presentation Wednesday

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Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

Some members of the House of Representatives have threatened to boycott the next Wednesday’s presentation of 2019 budget estimates by President, Muhammadu Buhari, over a comment by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, blaming the National Assembly for the delay in the presentation of the budget.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, President Buhari will present the 2019 Appropriation Bill before the federal lawmakers on Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

The president has communicated this to the National Assembly in a letter read at the plenary Thursday by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

But the lawmakers are already spoiling for showdown with the executive over Udoma’s claim that the federal lawmakers were responsible for the delay in budget presentation by not giving the president a date to do so.

Following Udoma’s allegation, members of the House of Representatives have threatened to boycott the presentation of 2019 budget estimates by President Buhari.

In his letter addressed to Speaker Dogara, President Buhari said: “May I crave the kind indulgence of the House of Representatives to grant me the slot of 1100 hours Wednesday, December 19, 2018 to formerly present the 2019 Appropriation Bill to the Joint Session of the National Assembly.”

Some members of the House of Representatives quickly lashed out at Udoma, for pointing accusing fingers at the parliament for delay in the presentation of the budget after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Citing Order 6, rule 4 under mater of privilege, Hon. Abubakar Chika Adamu representing Shiroro, Munya and Rafi federal constituency of Niger State, said the Minister of Budget and Planning must apologise to the House of Representatives over the report that he attributed the delay in the budget presentation to the lawmakers.

According to him, “The Minister of Budget and Planning bridged my privilege and other members of the House where the media (print particularly) reported that he said the National Assembly is frustrating presentation of the budget by not giving a date for its presentation. The Minister should apologise to the National Assembly and retract his statement.”

Also speaking on the issue, Hon. 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.

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.

The Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila however informed the House that the minister said he was wrongly quoted.

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 lawmakers to hold on a bit for the minister to make public his position before the House takes any radical decision.

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, Dogara said: “I want to plead with honourable members, in view of the fact that the minister who is at the centre of the storm was a member of this institution, to allow him and let’s see if we can have a retraction or rejoinder.