2019 Budget: Reps Threaten To Boycott Presentation Over Minister’s Remarks

Some members of the House of Representative on Thursday threatened to boycott the 2019 budget presentation scheduled to hold next week Wednesday.

The federal lawmakers made the threat after the speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, notifying the chamber of his intention to present the next year’s budget to the National Assembly.

The legislators made reference to a statement credited to Udoma Udoma, the minister of budget and planning as reason for their threat.

Mr Udoma was reported to have blamed the National Assembly for frustrating the efforts of the executive from presenting the proposed budget to the legislature.

As you already know, the budget is ready. We are liaising with the national assembly because they are to give us a date. If they say today, we will go. The budget is ready,” the minister was quoted as saying at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.

The remarks of Udoma angered the federal lawmakers who then threatened to boycott the presentation of the budget which must be presented to the two chambers of the National Assembly.

Chika Adamu (APC Niger) while reacting said the minister lied on national television and must tender an apology if the chamber must attend the presentation.

Another lawmaker, Mark Gbillah (PDP Benue) supporting Adamu’s remark said “it is a statement he (Udoma) made categorically.”

“He lied against this honourable house on national television. I want to join my colleagues to request a formal apology on TV, else we will refuse to attend that budget session with Mr President,” Gbillah said.

Mike Adeniyi (PDP Ondo) also supported the claim, noting that “the executive arm has always portrayed the parliament in bad light.”

“The minister must come and apologise. If not, the president will come to meet an empty house,” he added.

In defence of the minister, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos) accused his colleagues of peddling lies against the minister.

“The minister called me this morning; he was alarmed and upset and shocked. He said he was just reading something in the papers ascribed to him and that he never said such a thing and he is writing a rejoinder as we spoke,” the House leader said

“So I think we should tarry a while because you are accusing someone of lying. Let us not turn this house into a partisan house,” he added.

Immediately, Muhammad Soba (Kaduna) accused Gbajabiamila of “sycophancy”.

“We have seen how sycophancy has been taken to the next level. That is the APC government for you,” Soba said.

Intervening, Dogara pleaded with his colleagues to exercise patience “to see if he (Udoma) will truly issue a rejoinder.”

“But if we don’t see that (a rejoinder), then we have an issue because we will not allow this institution to be blackmailed. If nothing is done, we will take a concrete action on it,” he said.