President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, said he will present the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara announced this today when he read a letter from the president on the floor of the House.
“May I crave the kind indulgence of the House of Representatives to grant me the slot of 11 hours on Wednesday, 19th December, 2018 to formally present the 2019 appropriation bill in a joint session,” the letter read.
In their reactions, some lawmakers said they will boycott the budget presentation because of the comment made by the Minister of Budget and National Planing, Udoma Udoma at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Udoma was reported saying that budgetproposal ws ready but the National Assembly is yet to fix a date for its presentation.
“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 said.
Chika Adamu (APC, Niger) said Udoma told a lie on national television, and called on his colleagues to demand an apology from the minister.
Mark Gbillah from Benue state said Udoma “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.”
Mike Adeniyi from Ogun state said “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.”
The majority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, blamed his colleagues for determining the minister without hearing from own side.
“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,” he 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.”
Muhammad Soba, responded, saying: “We have seen how sycophancy has been taken to the next level. That is the APC government for you.”
Dogara called on his colleagues to give the minister sometime “to see if he will truly issue a rejoinder.”
In a statement issued by Udoma’s spokesperson Akpandem James, on Thursday, the minister denied blaming the lawmakers for the budget delay.
“Going by the headlines in some news media today in respect of the presentation of the 2019 Budget to the National Assembly, it is obvious that some of the reporters misconstrued the response of the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, when he was asked when the budget would be submitted to the Legislature.
“The Minister simply said that as is the procedure when the budget is ready, the Executive liaises with the National Assembly for a date which the Budget will be laid before the joint session of the Assembly; and that the process is on already.
“The Minister at no time throughout the interaction with the media blamed the National Assembly for the delay in the presentation, nor gave the impression that there was any issue between the two arms of government over the 2019 budget,” he said.