Gbajabiamila shuts down dissent as Reps commence debates on 2020 budget
The House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday foreclosed any possibility of opposition to the budget presentation done by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday without attaching the details.
This was as the Speaker ruled one of his colleagues, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers, out of order for raising issues of urgent public importance that the presentation as made by the President on Tuesday violated not only the constitution but the House standing rules.
President Buhari had on Tuesday during the joint session of the National Assembly stated that what he was presenting were highlights of the Budget as his cabinet Ministers would come with the details at a later date.
“During this address, I will present highlights of our budget proposals for the next fiscal year. The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide full details of these proposals, subsequently”, he told the Parliament.
However, when the Speaker called on the House Majority Leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano) to move for debates on the general principles of the money Bill, Kingsley, an opposition member who sought to become the House Minority Leader moved a point of order challenging the event of Tuesday afternoon.
Citing Order 12, Rule 19 Sub-Rule 1(a) page 73, paragraph two of the House standing Order, Chinda noted that accepting the budget estimates as laid by the President on Tuesday without details of expenditures and projected incomes was against the House Rules.
Urged by the Speaker to read out the provision of the said rule, Chinda reads: “During each year, there shall be introduced into the House, an Appropriation Bill which shall contain the estimated financial requirements for expenditure on revenue accounts on all the services of the government for the succeeding financial year. The details of these financial requirements shall be contained in the estimates which shall be presented at the same time”.
Chinda noted that since the president, by his own admission established violation of the rules, the onus was on the House to correct the anomaly by insisting on getting the details before members could be asked to express their opinions via debates.
The point if order was thereby rejected and the House leader was asked to move for the commencement of debates on the money Bill.
However, during the debate no dissenting views were aired, obviously taking cues from what had transpired earlier involving Chinda and the Speaker.
While the House Minority leader, Hon. Godwin Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), was on the floor when the drama unfolded, his deputy, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), was at a press conference on the need to fix the Enugu international airport.