A lawmaker has spoken out on why President Muhammadu Buhari was booed while presenting the 2019 budget.
P It will be recalled that president Muhammadu Buhari was interrupted and booed intermittently by some lawmakers while addressing the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday. The actions of the lawmakers threw the parliament into a rowdy session while the president presented the 2019 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly. Lawmakers from different political divides booed and cheered the president as he explained the budget details. Mr Buhari eventually proposed a budget of N8.83 trillion for 2019. The proposal showed that about a quarter of the sum (N2.14 trillion) will be used for debt servicing while capital expenditure is expected to gulp N2.03 trillion. But as the president mentioned each of his achievements, some lawmakers, mainly of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chorused, ‘No!’. The development forced some All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers to clash verbally with their colleagues as they booed the president. When Mr Buhari said, “We have weathered the storms and made progress on every front,” the opposition lawmakers screamed, “Nooooo!” When he said, “The economy has recovered well,” the lawmakers screamed in derision again. The president who was irked by the development was forced to respond to the lawmakers. ”The world is watching us and we are supposed to be above this,” he said calmly. The protesters ignored the president and continued, particularly when Mr Buhari said his administration had succeeded in its anti-corruption campaign. The president’s response was, however, greeted with applause by other lawmakers, mainly from his party, the APC. As soon as the president concluded his speech, the session turned rowdy again. It was then time for principal leaders, Messrs Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara to present their speeches. But while the pro-Buhari lawmakers chanted ”four more years,” those opposed to the president screamed, ”no more years”. After several minutes of drama, the Presidential Guards Brigade band drew the curtain by playing the National Anthem. The ceremony ended abruptly without speeches from the presiding officers of both houses. Security operatives led the president out of the chamber leaving the lawmakers behind. Some of the lawmakers who were seen booing the president include Diri Duoye (Bayelsa, PDP); Johnbull Shekarau (Plateau, PDP); Boma Goodhead (Rivers, PDP); Kingsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP) an Chukwuka Onyema (Anambra, PDP). Why We Protested – Lawmaker One of the members who protested against the president, Kingsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP) said one of the main reasons the lawmakers protested was because of the “insincerity” of the presidency during the implementation of previous budgets.“The presidency has not been fair to Nigerians when it comes to budget and most often they use that to blame the legislature.“One example is, when it comes to capital releases, you will find out that they have performed very poorly.” He said having performed so poorly, the president ”still talks about how to turn the economy around when they have not released capital expenditures, what magic are they going to do?“Today he told Nigerians that they have about N800 billion so far for capital expenditures as against N6.4 trillion, if you calculate that, it will give you about 16 per cent.“What it means is that they have achieved just 16 per cent release of capital expenditures.” He added that during their oversight, they discovered from some government agencies that only eight per cent of their 2018 budget was released. “The economy cannot move with that kind of practice.” He frowned at what he described as the executive disobedience to the Constitution ”which placed some agencies under the first line charge”. He also said the protest was not ‘planned’. “The protest was not planned, it was spontaneous. This morning, people just felt there was a need for it,” he said. He said they had the ‘support’ of their colleagues from the ruling APC.“It is not just about PDP lawmakers, some of the APC lawmakers felt that because they belonged to the same political party with the president, it will not be tidy for them to come to the open.“They are actually not happy with what is going on in the system,” he added. ***PREMIUM TIMES