Presidency in Dilemma over 2019 Budget as Opposition Faults National Assembly Leadership

By Emmanuel Uffot

There are strong indications that pressure is being mounted on the Federal Government to begin the implementation of the 2019 budget following the elapsed of the 2018 budget, The Value News has gathered.

 It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently put a question mark on the N8.92tn budget when he appended his signature to the 2019 Appropriation Bill on May 27, saying the budget would be difficult to implement.

He had added that he would engage the 9th Assembly on how best to address the challenges in the budget for a smooth implementation.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had adjourned plenary till July 2 shortly after their inauguration on June 11.

The Presidency  sources revealed that President Buhari wants to first hold consultations with the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly on how best to address the challenges in the budget before sending any letter pin pointing the grey areas.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, is reported to have disclosed this position in a chat with a National Newspaper where he reportedly the President will be consulting the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, to avoid creating any impression that there was a dispute between the two sides over the delay in the implementation of the budget.

Ahmed Lawan, Senate President

“The budget has just been signed and you know that the National Assembly too has just been inaugurated. The Senate and the House have yet to form their committees; they only sat for two days. It won’t be fair to say that we will send anything to them on the budget now. “The President will have to raise it and discuss it with the leadership first in order to take a decision on the best way to handle the 2019 budget.”Enang said.

Findings indicate that two options were being considered to address the challenges in the 2019 budget given the quagmire the President is in.

One of the option is said to be the likelihood of the President forwarding a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly to make room for the adjustments Buhari complained about while another is a request to drop the additional N90.33bn introduced by the 8th National Assembly.

Meanwhile even as the Presidency is still mooting a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly to find a way out to the perceive challenges confronting the 2019 Budget,

the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP has carpeted the new leadership of the National Assembly represented by Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila. According to them, Nigerians would not enjoy dividends of democracy with President Muhammadu Buhari as head of the executive arm of government; Ahmed Lawan as the President of the Senate; and Femi Gbajamiabila as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP,  Mr Diran Odeyemi, and the spokesperson for the CUPP, Mr Imo Ugochinyere, bare their minds to the media recently in Abuja.

Femi Gbajiabiamila, Speaker House of Representatives

Odeyemi is of the opinion that Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC based on the emergence of Lawan and Gbajabiamila being the President and his party candidates have hijacked both the judiciary and the legislature.

He added that they had been threatening people who were considered as opponents of the administration with intimidation and investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

 “This kind of arrangement does not portend a sign of good things to come. The President and the APC started the ‘total capture’ and dominance of the democratic set up in Nigeria with the judiciary, reference to Justice Walter Onnoghen saga, in anticipation of their plan to rig the 2019 elections.

“They have followed it up with super imposition of the National Assembly leadership, having threatened some potential leaders with the EFCC, cajoled some with appointments, intimidated and frightened others out of the race. It is logical to say Buhari now owns Nigeria or has captured Nigeria.

“Let us now wait and see what will be the product of this well-planned democratic abracadabra. PDP will no longer be blamed and we wish him good luck.” Odeyemi stated.

 Similarly, Ugochinyere of CUPP, asked Nigerians not to expect any positive development under the current political arrangement.

He said, If any Nigerian is expecting something dramatic, something inspiring with a combination of Buhari, Lawan and Gbajamiabila, that person needs to think twice.

“There is nothing good that will come out of this arrangement.We have a government that has not made a strategic appointment because the President) does not understand the urgency of time in addressing national issues.” The CUPP spokesman stressed.

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