Angry lawmakers have promised to boo and heckle President Buhari during 2018 budget presentation at NASS.
Unless of course there’s a last minute change of plan from the very angry lawmakers or unless the principal officers of both chambers of parliament are able to pacify their colleagues, expect a rowdy session at the national assembly this afternoon.
Why are the lawmakers angry with Buhari? It has to do with something called constituency projects.
You see, your senators and House of Rep members haven’t been given the N100B allocated for their constituency projects in the 2017 budget.
And they are wary of confronting you at constituencies at year's end, with nothing to show.
Constituency projects are social intervention projects which lawmakers promise to undertake during electioneering campaigns.
“Why should we clap and welcome Buhari as he reels out details of 2018 budget when he hasn’t implemented even 40 percent of the 2017 budget? Don’t you know that it is this constituency projects that will guarantee if we get re-elected into the national assembly? Buhari is frustrating our political future and he should get no mercy from us today”, one lawmaker said.
The 2017 constituency projects were captured under the year’s N2.6 trillion capital spending appropriation.
The 2017 budget amounted to some N7 trillion in total.
According to ThisDay newspaper, the executive arm of government has so far released N436B for what it calls ‘priority capital projects’.
Since the 2017 budget was passed five months ago, lawmakers have received nothing for the execution of constituency projects, Pulse was told.
One unnamed senator told ThisDay that: “Forget what Udo Udoma (Minister of Budget and National Planning) and Kemi Adeosun (Minister of Finance) said during the hearing on the implementation of the 2017 budget; they said 40 percent would be implemented with 60 percent rolled over into the 2018 budget.
“But the way we are going with the push to restore the budget calendar to January-December, only 25 percent of the 2017 budget would be implemented.
“Effectively, this cuts off the zonal intervention funds appropriated for constituency projects. The 2017 budget is the budget before the campaign year, which is 2018. Many of us have nothing on the ground in our constituencies to warrant re-election.”
Another lawmaker was quoted as saying: "After I had told my people that certain projects were coming and they have clapped for me, do I go back and say the funds were not released? Buhari has been unfair to us, honestly and this is our chance to get back at him.
“Presidents are booed all over the world, so let that be our way of showing that we are displeased”.
Pulse has been told that to keep the hecklers at bay, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House Yakubu Dogara, have been holding meetings with aggrieved caucuses in a bid to placate them not to boo the nation’s president.
New Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, was also deployed to the national assembly on Monday to plead with lawmakers not to heckle the president when he reels out 2018 budget estimates.
Aside allocations for constituency projects, lawmakers are also angry over the poor implementation of the 2017 budget overall, by the executive.
A few lawmakers told Pulse that since 2015 when Buhari assumed the reins of the nation’s leadership, no annual budget has recorded 50 percent implementation rate.
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The Guardian quotes an anonymous lawmaker as saying; “remember that the 2018 budget is the last one to be executed fully by this administration. What will the president count as his legacy in terms of budget implementation? Also, take note that all these budget failures have very damning effects on members of the national assembly who are the real representatives of the people.
“What do they expect us to tell our constituents? It is really a sad moment for us”.
Wednesday’s budget presentation by the president to a joint session of the national assembly will commence at 2pm.