The lawmakers’ grouse with the President transcends the event at the NASS during the budget presentation.
President Muhammadu Buhari received a shock last week. He was shocked at the reception he received at the National Assembly where he had gone to present the 2019 budget. Coming at a time when his popularity has gone down and the anger in the streets rising, this was not surprising.
The President, despite being aware of the prevailing tense situation in the chamber, deliberately provoked the already angered legislators by raising his hands with the 4+4 salutations. From that moment and by that singular act, he heightened and evoked partisan emotions among those who do not support another four years agenda.
He could have made it through his budget presentation speech without irking the legislators if he had avoided innuendos, gestures of 4+4 and obvious propaganda deliberately laced in the speech.
The president’s prepared budget remarks presented another brand of the propaganda and lies the government has been brandishing in the last three and half years. He came in on a grandiose of an emperor without remorse and soberness for the inflation and unemployment rates rising astronomically. It became more worrisome that the same day he was presenting his 2019 budget. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a damning report about the unemployment rate of the nation that has risen to about 21 million of unemployed people. All these woes were brought upon the nation by the ineffectiveness of the Buhari government to transform the fortunes of the nation in the last three and half years of being in the saddle.
Buhari did promise to be better than the Goodluck Jonathan government, basing his campaigns on the failings of the former government, promising to create jobs and holistically leading the fight
to end insecurity and corruption in the land. What did he do with the goodwill and trust he enjoyed as a presidential candidate? He squandered it on the platform of clannishness and bias. He shielded members of his party accused of corruption from probe, while using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an attack to hunt political enemies and members of the opposition.
What transpired at the National Assembly during the week was obvious: The anger and rejection that greeted the President’s budget presentation is a reflection of the unprecedented disunity and division in the country and also a reflection that the people have rejected the President. The lawmakers were not exactly angered as President Buhari presented his infamous and uninspiring speech at the NADS, they looked unsettled, with no pockets of admiration that Buhari has always received while presenting his three previous budgets. But the president, nonetheless, received a scanty applause only from members of his party as he read his speech.
And then the President went on and started reeling out non-existing projects as the achievements of his administration. Boos and hisses ensued, mostly from lawmakers from the areas where he claimed the projects had been sited. They know the areas more than he does and they know what is and is not in their locality.
The lawmakers’ grouse with the President transcends the event at the NASS during the budget presentation. They were angry that the 2018 budget has only been implemented up to less than 18 per cent, which is the cause of the untold hardship and hunger in the country.
Instead of the government to be transparent and truthful on its achievements, the president came to the NASS with a catalogue of obvious misinformation, which infuriated the NASS members.
Once the executive rides roughshod over the rights of the citizens and brings hunger and hardship upon them, it is left to the representatives of the people to stand up and speak for them. This, no doubt, must have necessitated the reactions of the NASS members.
The lawmakers were also angered by the several blackmails and lies that have been told against them by the president’s aides, which is part of the unnecessary propaganda adopted by the APC-led government as instrument for governance. The Minister of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma, had said the NASS delayed the 2018 budget, which hindered its implementation. He claimed he never said, but journalists quoted him as saying so when he spoke with them. He didn’t apologise to the NASS members, despite calls on him to do so.
The government, in the last three years, has shown no regard and respect for any institution or individual. Riding roughshod on the legislature has become the attitude of the administration. This too has not gone down well with the legislators, who believe the President runs the nation like an emperor.
It is expected that the boos and hisses the President received at NASS in the outgoing week will bring upon him a moment to soberly reflect on how he has managed the nation in the last three years and tread the path of honour and admit that he has not been a good manager, rather than abusing the intellect of the citizens with propaganda about non-existing projects.
Lawal wrote in from Abuja