Jonathan’s 2014 Budget presentation divides Reps

joint sitting of the national assembly08 November 2013, Abuja – The House of Representatives witnessed yet another rowdy session, yesterday, when a member, Hon Ali Madaki (PDP, Dala Constituency, Kano) moved a motion demanding a resolution by the House to bar President Goodluck Jonathan from presenting the 2014 budget estimate to the National Assembly on Tuesday next week.

It will be recalled that President Jonathan had last week written to the Senate and House of Representatives informing them of his plans to present the 2014 budget on November 12.

Madaki’s motion which came in form of Point of Order was hinged on the poor performance of the 2013 budget.
The lawmaker recalled that the House reached a compromise last year before giving their nod to the 2013 budget. He reminded the House of a controversy that erupted over the budget when members insisted to know the performance of 2012 budget, saying an agreement was then reached that before the 2014 will be accommodated, explanations must be given on the over all performance of 2013 budget.

Madaki who rated the current performance of 2013 budget at 40 per cent argued that it was unreasonable to allow the president to present the 2014 budget proposal, suggesting that the President be called to give explanation on the abysmal record of the 2013 budget.

He said: “This year’s budget is below 40 per cent implementation. The budget must be implemented to a certain level before a new one is allowed or taken from the President.”

The House immediately became sharply divided with many members of All Progressive Congress(APC) pitching tent with Madaki.

But Hon. Warman Ogoriba (Bayelsa PDP ) rose up in defense of the President.

While raising objections to Madaki’s submission, Ogoriba said that it was the constitutional right of the president to present the budget to the National Assembly.

His view however got support from another of President Jonathan’s loyalist, Hon Nkem Abonta (Abia PDP) who cautioned that it would translate to a breach of the constitution if he was barred.

Yet again, Hon Friday Itula (Edo PDP) overruled Abonta’s insistence on the presentation of the budget.

Meanwhile, as the arguments and counter-argument were degenerating to a level that could leadd to a showdown, the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said it was a mistake debating the matter in the first place, stressing that a point of order raised by Madaki on personal information should not have been a subject of debate.

Tambuwal, said it was against the rules to allow members to debate any point of order that was of personal information, saying it was Madaki’s piece of information to the House which was a product of his observation on the 2013.

But despite the speaker’s appeal to the members, some nerves were still frayed as to why President Jonathan should be allowed to present the budget estimates on Tuesday.

When finally, the issue was put to vote by the Speaker, the shouts of “yea” and “nay” rented the air. But Tambuwal who would not want further argument on the matter hit the gavel in favour of the “yea” thereby paving way for the President to present the budget on Tuesday.

Similarly, the House also criticised the President over his refusal to assent to some bills passed by the National Assembly.

This was contained in a bill sponsored by Hon Yakub Dogara(Bauchi PDP).

He listed about 36 bills passed by the chamber which were still awaiting the assent of the President. To save the day, the Committee on Rules and Business was mandated to gather the unsigned bills for the House.
*Levinus Nwabughiogu & Emman Ovuakporie, Vanguard

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