There was chaos and disorder in the National Assembly as President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 budget proposal to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
There had been concerns over whether the ongoing strike by the National Assembly workers would affect the scheduled presentation of the budget proposal. However, it was not the workers but the lawmakers that constituted the nuisance and disorderliness that characterised the event.
Right from when Buhari entered the green chambers of the House of Reps, shouts of “Sai Baba, Sai Baba” rented the air by the lawmakers belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The cheers, added to attempts by some of the lawmakers to get close to the president, further prolonged the time it took for him to walk down to the platform.
Sai Baba! Sai Baba!! Sai Baba! 🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/8scuwr7dha
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) December 19, 2018
The opening prayer which was led by one lawmaker each from the Christian and Muslim religions was also characterised by noisemaking by the lawmakers. Some reports say some of the lawmakers actually traded blows while the presentation process had commenced.
When Buhari eventually mounted the podium to address the legislators, he was constantly interrupted, either by the APC lawmakers cheering unnecessarily or by PDP lawmakers incessantly interrupting the president with words like “it’s a lie”, “propaganda”, “campaign speech”, etc.
At a point, Buhari had to caution the unruly lawmakers saying: “May I remind members of the National Assembly that the world is watching us. We are supposed to be above this.”
Also, as soon as Buhari ended his speech, the chaos and rowdiness resumed, as APC lawmakers commenced another round of “Sai Baba” and “Next Level”, while the PDP lawmakers returned the favour with their own protest chants.
Speaker Dogara, who was called upon to give the vote of thanks was not allowed to speak as the noise continued with the legislators all shouting or singing at the top of their voices
This is the first time such chaos is being witnessed during budget presentation, and it may be connected with the controversies that have rocked the Senate and the House of Reps, especially following the recent gale of defections that resulted to both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House to dump the APC for the PDP alongside many others.
The rowdy session at the budget presentation attracted criticisms from Nigerians on the social media.
“This is appalling and completely irresponsible. For so-called lawmakers to be behaving this way? Sane Nigerians can now see the quality of characters we call lawmakers here? How will the world see us if the second arm of government is filled with street urchins?” wrote one Ayourb, whose Twitter handle is ‘The Godfather”.
Another Tweeter user wrote simply, “2019 budget presentation. You feel sorry for Nigeria with our executives and the National Assembly.”