BY OBUTE JAMES
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Wednesday 19th December present the 2019 budget proposal to the joint section of the Nigerian National Assembly comprising the Senate and House of Representatives.
Buhari had last week written to the leadership of the National Assembly that he will present the 2019 Appropriation bill by 11am on 19th December, however, the National Assembly workers began what they termed warning strike from Monday 17 to Thursday 20 December.
Responding to questions from journalists (today), Tuesday the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said workers in the National Assembly currently on strike cannot shut down the legislature. According to him, the strike cannot stop the National Assembly from sitting because it will amount to shutting down the country.
He said ”It’s not possible to shut down the legislature as the entire country would be shut down as there will be nobody to make the laws.
“Last night both legislative chambers’ leadership met on the issue of unpaid salaries though we operate separate accounts and we are on top of it.
“Our intervention is already yielding results and we hope to get results soon.”
On whether President Muhammadu Buhari will still present the budget, he said, ”This is an APC government, yes the president will present it tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Similarly, the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Sani Onogu, told this medium on telephone that nothing is stopping President Buhari from presenting the 2019 budget proposal to the legislators tomorrow (Wednesday). He said everything is set for Mr President to present the appropriation bill.
Blame security operatives if Buhari is hindered from presenting Budget
The leadership of National Assembly in press statement had called on the Nigerians to blame security operatives if President Buhari is hindered from presenting the 2019 budget proposal to the National Assembly as scheduled.
In a statement signed by Clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Omolori, the leadership of the National Assembly directed the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure adequate security within the vicinity of the National Assembly ahead of Buhari’s visit.
The directive was passed after a meeting of the joint leadership of the two chambers with the management and representatives of the security agencies.
The meeting was called by the political leadership to listen to the management led by the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) on efforts made so far to address the grievances of the striking staff.
“The leadership of the National Assembly called the meeting because they know that almost all the issues raised by the striking workers were being addressed by the management. And after listening to the CNA, it was unanimously agreed that the management had made sufficient plans and efforts to address all the grievances of the workers and ensure their happiness.
“We were sure that the issues raised by the workers have been well attended to and that it is necessary for the business of the National Assembly to continue without any disturbance. Both chambers must hold their normal plenary tomorrow morning to prepare the ground for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 to present the budget proposal to the joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“We have therefore mandated the security agencies to perform their duty of maintaining law and order in the National Assembly Complex and its surrounding. They must enforce the laws which allow the striking workers to down tools if they choose to and also the ones which restrain them from disturbing those who choose to work or stop parliamentarians from entering the chambers or their offices to do the work for which they were elected.
“Senators and members of the House of Representatives, their aides, other workers and people who have legitimate business within the National Assembly Complex are therefore advised to come in as they will be free to operate without any hindrance and molestation.
“If President Buhari is unable to present the budget proposal on Wednesday as scheduled Nigerians should hold the security agencies responsible for failing in the performance of their duties”, the statement affirmed.