Daily Trust (Abuja)

12 November 2013

Nigeria: PDP Crisis Forces Jonathan to Postpone 2014 Budget Presentation

The presentation of the 2014 budget by President Goodluck Jonathan to the joint session of the National Assembly this morning has been put forward by a week. Both the Senate and House of Representatives spokesmen confirmed the postponement but they did give any reason.

A highly-placed source told Daily Trust late yesterday that Jonathan had conveyed a letter to Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal informing him that he would not be able to make the budget presentation today as requested. The source said attributed the shift in date to the pestering crisis within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

According to the source, Jonathan made new request to make the presentation next Tuesday November 19, hoping the problem would be settled during the intervening period.

The source who did not want to be named said Jonathan may have decided to postpone the budget presentation because of what happened in the House last week when some members attempted to stop his coming, citing poor implementation of the 2013 budget.

"I was in my house when a member called me that the president would not be coming any longer because he learnt that we are going to harass him. You remember what happened when our leaders led by Kawu Baraje came here. They harassed them and cause commotion. So they're afraid that we'll do the same thing to the President," said the source.

There was uproar in the House last Thursday when some members of the House led by Rep Ali Madaki (PDP, Kano attempted to stop Jonathan's budget presentation as a result of poor budget implementation. While the lawmakers argued that the 2013 budget implementation is below 40 percent, minister of finance had said it was above 70 percent.

However, a lawmaker who is a supporter of the president told our reporters that if Tambuwal did not do anything to stop the New PDP members from their planned action, the House would be ungovernable for him.

He added, "Yes, I heard that they're planning to embarrass the president when he comes tomorrow (today). The Speaker must do something about, because if he allows them, we'll make the House ungovernable for him in the next one year.

"You know it's all about this New PDP leaders who came last time and there was a fight. We don't want to join issues with anybody, but we'll wait for them and see. How can some few people say the president should not come?"

The two factions of the PDP engaged in a free-for-all on September 17 when leadership of the New PDP under the leadership of Kawu Baraje visited the House.

Following the incident, some New PDP members reportedly promised to do same to Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and President Jonathan should they come to the House for anything.

The crisis also stalled sitting of the House for weeks as the leadership of the House was forced to send committees on oversight functions for three weeks. Another reason given by a source was that the National Assembly staff planned to use the opportunity to protest during Jonathan's budget presentation.

A circular signed by the Director of Personnel Management in the National Assembly Ishaya Habu Sarki read in part that: "I am directed to refer to the scheduled presentation of the 2014 Budget estimates by the President Goodluck Jonathan to the joint session of the National Assembly and to request all staff within Grades 01-14 except Chamber and Sergeant At-Arms staff to resume at 2pm on Tuesday."

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