PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari says he will present the 2019 budget proposal before a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, December 19.
This was contained in a letter read on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
“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.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) during its meeting on Wednesday had approved the 2019 budget, but the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, declined to reveal the details of the budget, saying that they were liaising with the National Assembly to fix a date when the document would be presented.
However, the lawmakers, during Thursday’s plenary, expressed displeasure at Udoma’s comments which, according to them, implied that lawmakers were the ones delaying the presentation of the budget.
Udoma had said after Wednesday’s FEC meeting, “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.”
But Chika Adamu, a legislator from Niger state, said Udoma told a lie against members of the National Assembly on national television and called on his colleagues to demand an apology from the minister.
Some other lawmakers supported the motion, pointing out that the executive arm of government was fond of making the parliament appear bad before the people, hence the need for a public apology, else, they will boycott the budget presentation.
However, Femi Gbajabiamila, the majority leader of the house, said Udoma was misquoted by the media and that he was writing a rejoinder to his earlier statement in order to clear the air.
At this, Dogara called on his colleagues to give the minister sometime “to see if he 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.”
The 2018 budget proposal was presented to the National Assembly in November 2017, and President Buhari said he had hoped that the budget would have been passed before the end of the year in order to launch the country into a January to December budget system. However, the budget was not passed until May 2018, and was signed into law in June.