The 2018 Budget Speech by President Buhari and the National Assembly Brouhaha: By Ibrahim Kala

The arm of government that has the constitutional task or responsibility of preparing and presenting the annual Budgets of the country or state is the “Executive ” – be it the President of the country, state Governor. The other responsibilities of the executive cover the whole spectrum of nationhood. This annual budget which represents the financial plan of action of the government for an incoming year may also be presented by a cabinet minister either of finance, budget or economic planning (as witness during President Jonathan era) or by a commissioner (mostly of finance and or budget) in the case of states. Because of lack of autonomy, I will not talk about that of the local government level in Nigeria.

In the cause of presenting the annual budget before the legislature, there come the “Budget Speech”. A ‘budget speech’ is a speech delivered at the annual budget presentation before the legislature, showing the economic path that the government intends to tread including the strategies and what it would cost government to achieve those goals. It would normally review the financial and economic situation of the country in the previous year. It would also address the anomalies and dislocations spotted in the economy and how these would be checked.

However, this event of budget speech should not be misconstrued with “Speech from the Throne”, where a Head of State delivers address or message before the legislature at the beginning of a parliamentary session. Although, the message may also include the gains and achievements of the government in the previous year. A joint session of the two houses of Assembly will receive the speech. A debate on the speech is nominally allowed by the House where the House takes a closer look at the message, praising and or criticizing it as the case may be.

Yesterday the 19/12/2018, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the annual budget of the country for the year 2019 before the joint session of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representative). During the budget presentation by the president of the country himself, the National Assembly members went into a rowdy session each member pinched tent with his political party. While the ruling APC party were shouting “Sai Baba!”, “4 +4” showing with their fingers ostensibly in support of President Buhari, the opposition members mostly from PDP were shouting “No to hunger!”, “Articulated!” In opposition thereof. It’s a highly embarrassing moment in a special event like this our law makers will reduce themselves to ‘motor park taunts’ in the name of party politics. This should not be so.

While, I am not oblivion with the so called ‘parliamentary immunity’ where members of the legislature has special ‘cover’ in the context of ‘freedom of speech’ to air their views very frankly, sincerely and decisively without being cited and arrested for libel for there utterances on the floor of the Assembly. This privilege is helpful in ensuring the integrity of the House, upholding their legislative rights, and guaranteeing business efficiency.

However, the exercise of this ‘immunity’ is taken too far this time by members of the National Assembly at the annual budget presentation yesterday.

I, like other reasonable Nigerian, will continue to insist that it is only the right people who see themselves beyond party affiliation that will be elected to occupy the red and the green chambers for quality representation for the development of our country since all bills (including the budget) they scrutinize and pass bind all Nigerians.

Ibrahim Ahmad Kala can be reached via
Ibrokalaesq@yahoo.com



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