President Goodluck Jonathan was supposed to present and lay before the combined session of the National Assembly the 2014 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. As preparations towards the event peaked, the event was suddenly postponed to Tuesday, November 19, 2013, and the President wrote the leadership of the Assembly to that effect.
Media reports later disclosed that the event was postponed because some members of the opposition, particularly the All People’s Congress (APC) and the aggrieved members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) now known as the G7, had allegedly perfected plans to boo the President as he presented the report. This, it is assumed, was supposed to be a retaliation of the booing that the Abubakar Baraje faction of the PDP received from the President’s loyalists when they came to complain to the Assembly about their grievances in the party.
If true, this situation is not only unhealthy, it is also totally unacceptable. It does the nation no credit for people elected to the federal legislature to represent the interests of the ordinary Nigerian people to go there and turn the hallowed chambers of the Assembly to a theatre of unholy partisan politics.
We are calling on leaders of both chambers of the Assembly to call their members to order and prevail on them to leave politics and power struggle outside when they enter the chambers. Their job is to go there and canvass issues that will advance the well being of the people and solve the many problems facing the nation.
The Federal Appropriation Bill is an instrument for achieving this purpose through financial appropriation. It is a bill that is above partisan politics, as Nigerians from all walks of life depend on its passage and implementation for things to move forward. The attempt to present the budget early enough is aimed at giving the legislators an opportunity to pass it on time for it to be properly implemented.
Ordinarily, budget implementation has proved to be a Herculean task since the dawn of our renascent democracy in 1999. None of the budgets presented since that time was successfully implemented. In most cases, undue delays and wrangling between the Legislature and the Executive were partly responsible for the lapses in implementation. The introduction of politics of intra- and inter-party power play will only foredoom the 2014 Appropriation, and that is why we must do everything to forestall it.
Putting politics aside, members of the Assembly must accord the President the respect he deserves as he reads the budget and lays it on the table for their attention. Booing him or embarrassing him in any way will not be accepted by Nigerians. Political parties must immediately step in and ensure the President does his job without let or hindrance.
We must do away with bitter politics.