BUHARI, NASS AND BUDGET PRESENTATION

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The anger that greeted the President’s budget presentation is a reflection of the division in the country, argues Femi Salako

President Muhammadu Buhari received the shock of his life last week. As if the anger on the streets was not enough, the president was shocked at the reception he received at the National Assembly where he had gone to present the 2019 budget.

The president despite being aware of the prevailing tense situation in the chamber, deliberately provoked the legislators by raising his hands with the 4+4 salutations. From that moment and by that singular act, the president heightened and evoked partisan emotions among those who do not support his four more years agenda.

He could have made it through his budget presentation speech without irking the legislators if he had avoided innuendos, gestures of 4+4 and obvious lies deliberately laced in the speech.

The president’s prepared budget remarks presented another brand of the propaganda and lies the government has been brandishing in the last three years. He came in on a grandiose of an emperor without remorse and sober for the inflation and unemployment rates; it became more worrisome that the same day the president was presenting his 2019 budget, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), released a damning report about the unemployment rate of the nation that has risen to about 21million, woes brought upon the nation by the ineffectiveness of his government to transform the fortune of the nation in the last three and half years of being in the saddle.

The president did promise to be better than the previous government, basing his campaigns on the failings of the former government and promising to create jobs and holistically lead the fight to end insecurity and corruption in the land.

What did he do with the goodwill and trust he enjoyed as a presidential candidate? He squandered it on the platform of clannishness and bias, shielding members of his party accused of corruption from probe, using the EFCC as an attack dog to hunt political enemies and members of the opposition.

The anger and rejection that greeted the president’s budget presentation is a reflection of the unprecedented disunity and division in the country.

The lawmakers were not exactly angry as the president presented his uninspiring speech at the NASS; they only looked unsettled, with no pockets of admiration that Buhari has always received while presenting his three previous budgets. But the president nonetheless received a scanty applause from members of his party as he read his speech, at least in some form of solidarity.

And then the president went on and started reeling out non-existing projects as the achievements of his administration. Boos and hisses ensued, mostly from lawmakers from the areas where the president claimed the projects have been sited. They know the areas more than the president and they know what is and is not in their locality.
But the lawmakers’ anger with the president transcended the event at the NASS during the budget presentation.
They were visibly angry that the 2018 budget has only been implemented up to less than 18%, which is the cause of the untold hardship and hunger in the land.

Instead of the government to be transparent and truthful in its achievements, the president came to the NASS with a catalogue of obvious lies, which infuriated the members to raise their voices against the president’s speech.

Once the executive rides roughly over the rights of the citizens and brings hunger and hardship upon them, it is left to the representatives of the people to stand up and speak for them.
The lawmakers were also angered by the several blackmails and lies that have been told against them by the president’s aides which are part of the unnecessary propaganda adopted by the APC-led government as instrument for governance. The Minister of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma had in the past blackmailed the NASS that it delayed the 2018 budget which hindered its implementation. He didn’t apologise to the NASS members despite calls on him to do so.

The government in the last three years has shown no regard and respect for any institution or individual. Rough riding over the rights of the legislature has become the attitude of this administration. This too has not gone down well with the legislators who believe the president runs the nation like an emperor.
It is expected that the boos and hisses the president received at the NASS last week will bring upon him a moment to soberly reflect on how he has managed the nation in the last three and half years.